Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Blue Heron of Happiness

Rarely do I run with any devices, especially a cell phone. This morning, though, the wife convinced me to carry her iPod, which had on it some NPR Driveway Moments, including one about quadriplegic psychologist Dr. Dan Gottlieb, who told about the despair he sometimes felt and he knew others felt. But he told a story about a man who had come to see him and, when the session was over, the man strugged to get out of his chair as Gottlieb watched. "I'm glad I can at least still get out of the chair," the man admitted. "I'm glad I don't have to struggle with that," the psychologist said, and they both laughed. That story is here: "Lessons from a Psychologist, and Grandad."
As I listened I was just coming to my blue heron pond, and I slowed to a walk, hoping to see the heron. Gottleib told about his father who sometimes wished he could slough off "this veil of tears," and just then the heron rose, its wings stroking the air, quietly lifting the giant bird into the sky. He wasn't startled today, it seemed, just cautious, and I noticed the carp that usually swirl away so quickly were still lined up gulping at the air along the pond's flat surface.
Later I listened to another story of wonder, a woman whose vision had always been monocular, seeing everything as a flat surface, though she could drive and play tennis. In an unusual development, she began to develop binocular vision, and her description of seeing herself in a snowfall, rather than just observing it, is well worth the listen.
As I ran along, listening to these stories and seeing once again my random rabbit, my patient blue heron, my chorus of carp, poet Mary Oliver's book Why I Wake Early came to mind, her emphatic joy in the life around us.
(This image is from Mark Goldstein's collection of photos at PhotographyBlog.)

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