I’m sitting at the corner table in the Park Royal Village Starbucks sipping a tall, soy, no-water chai tea latte, listening a duet of “Baby it’s Cold Outside.” I’m also sitting in front of a blank document, curser blinking, waiting for letters to be typed into words. Words that have been written in my head for days. Words that are supposed to be the conduit to bring my thoughts from the ephemeral world inside my head to the concrete world we can all see and touch. It shouldn’t be so difficult. I’m thinking thoughts all the time, whole words and even complete sentences! Why are they never here when I’m sitting in front of my laptop or with pen and paper? Where do they go, these little things with wings? Where do they fly off to when they don’t want to be permanently etched onto paper or digitized into my laptop? There is an entire flock of words soaring around up in the realm of my imagination, calling to each other, “Quick, come this way before you’re captured! Follow your brethren and you’ll be safe!”
I imagine first a dark cloud of words, like the murder of crows that gather by the hundreds each evening east of the highway just past Boundary Way, cawing to each other as they circle and swirl in the sky, sharing the news of the day. Hitchcock’s crows looking for Tippi Hendron, their dark wings disturbing the air as more and more of them join the birdley hurricane. A force not of this world. Us, down on the ground, humans walking, driving in their cars along the highway, going about our business, we are inconsequential. For once, we are in their world….or is this where our two worlds meet? The world of the crows and the world of the humans. Am I the only one who looks up and watches? Am I the only one who stops and wonders at the awe of the black dance in the twilight above us? At the beauty and the grace of the word birds as they fly sky-poetry? Or is it a short story? Perhaps another chapter in a continuing saga, a never-ending novel, an ever-shifting memoir.
I imagine next a murmuration of many coloured starlings. Red ones, yellow ones, orange, green, purple, pink, painting the sky. Adverbs and Adjectives flitting about like hummingbirds and darting here and there like swallows. Resplendent joy as they dance just out of reach, playing tag.
Sometimes, when I’m looking too hard, with my forehead bunched up in wrinkled concentration, I catch a glimpse of a word bird of many colours, a kaleidoscopic bird or a tie-dyed bird. Metaphors and similes, that when splashed across the page in a wondrous technicolour luminocity, lift from the page and hug my heart. The “just right” birds that fly onto my page when I’m not even looking, when I’m not even trying. These are the touches of grace that every so often kiss my fingers and caress my soul and keep me coming back to the blinking cursor or empty page again and again and again.
But I didn’t intend to start out writing about birds, or even word birds at all. See how they can fly about and disturb the best of intentions? I want to sit down and begin the story of a great Warrior who did battle with the Demons of Betrayal. I want to write about how this Warrior was thrust into the battle against her deepest wishes. About how, when she found herself suddenly in the seering nuclear wartime winter, in the cold, wet, muddy trenches, her Spirit Warrior sent out the call to arms to all archetypes, and she became like the Amazon Warrior of legend. For this is how legends are born and reborn again.
Red Bird of Betrayal ~ line drawing by Patrick O'Neill
Like all great legends and myths, the woman who becomes the Warrior is unconscious and unaware that she is waging a war. She is sleeping when the call to arms is sounded and an army of archetypes gathers in the kairos, bringing with them all manner of weaponry and protection, guided and directed by her Spirit Warrior.
Two weeks later and I’m sitting in another Starbucks, surrounded by students and jazz music, waiting for the start of my son’s soccer game. I smile at the girl across from me as she looks up from the text book she has spread open before her. My Warrior is resting. My Storyteller moves my fingers, typing the shared Truth, dancing in sideways through the door. The red Bird of Betrayal drips blood as it flies overhead, small droplets of warrior wounds. Creativity breaths in the Realm of Possibility, where the birds of inspiration nest and where all truths live. Mine and his.