Like I said in the previous blog, I’m trying to get back into shape – at least a little – by jogging a few miles three or four times a week. (Not quite like my bygone ultra-marathoning days when I would cover 50+ miles in a single run). I always take a break around the half-way point to stretch my aching back.
So, I’m laying on the grass in this awkward, twisted, stretching posture when I notice a bird on the branch above me singing its little heart out. It sang a couple of notes with a particular cadence, and then three other birds somewhere in the trees successively sang a couple of other notes, each in a unique cadence that vaguely echoed the first bird’s. At this point the first bird repeated its song, with a very slight variation, and the other three birds repeated their songs with slight variations. This went on and on, with the collective masterpiece gradually evolving over the course of the three minutes or so I listened.
Feeling duly limbered up, I rose to my feet, thanked the birds for the entertainment, and set out on the second half of my jaunt.
What I find most beautiful about this encounter is that none of it had to happen. I didn’t have to be lying on the ground just when I was and where I was, and the birds didn’t have to be singing in the trees just when they were and where they were. Nor did the birds have to sing just those notes, with just that cadence, and the collective song didn’t have to evolve just the way it did.
Though we usually don’t notice it, this random spontaneity is all around us. In fact, as I mentioned in my previous blog, I think it’s in the nature of everything. There’s a magnificent non-necessity to the nature of things.
Become aware of your environment for a moment, and you’ll see it.
I’m now sitting here on my porch. Look at those never-before witnessed and never-to-be repeated cloud patterns! Two birds are randomly dancing about just above the tree tops to my left. Now they’re gone. The wind just picked up and the leaves rustled like a chorus. Four kids are playing some sort of variation of hopscotch a few houses down, and a little girl seems upset over something. Now they’re arguing. A car just passed by with a loud booming bass. A dog in the distance barks several times. It stops. It barks again. There’s a passenger jet on the horizon. Another bird races by overhead, veering this way and that. A couple walks by with their big dog. The dog looks this way and that way, picking up scents that interest it, but the couple doesn’t notice because they’re talking. Birds are chirping all around with evolving patterns.
In this moment I’m aware that I’m enveloped in a virtually infinite sea of non-necessary details. The playful contingency of it all is splendid.
Enjoy the spontaneous beauty of the ocean of non-necessary details all around you.
And now I decide to stop writing.