Real Life

Barn Swallow at Main Pond.

Sometimes I think my real life is lived here, at the Fill. This is where I experience my greatest peace of mind, my true connection to the natural world. It is here I feel joy, even exaltation, at the sight of a swallow spreading its angel wings over the pond, swifts shooting like fireworks over the tops of the alders, goldfinches in their hundreds taking in the rich bounty of nature and giving back to me that richness as I watch them.

I have been absent from paradise for the past five days. My son and his partner came for the 23rd Annual Block Party we host every year. When they drove up in their little car, I rushed out of the house to give them both a hug. I have not seen them for months. They and my other kids and my husband are my real life, you see, for they are the ones who bring me joy, even exaltation, because of the love I hold in my heart for them.

I housed the kids in the basement, which is also my office, and I lent my computer to my son so he could play his games, check his email, and network on his social pages. I could not write a word while they were visiting, and now I can again. Writing is my real life, you see. It brings me joy, even exaltation, to paint a picture with words, after struggling to find just the right word to paint with from the the rich palette offered by the English language.

I must have other real lives too, scattered through the corners of my time and place like the giant dust bunnies that occupy most of the corners of my house (cleaning is definitely not my real life). We all do. Perhaps one hallmark of modern urban life is this fact, that we lead many different lives, each one important but usually separate.

Birds in nature do not have this. Oh, they have many phases of life. They hatch, fledge, fatten up, migrate, and breed, and each of these phases is different. But not separate. Nature is integrated. That is why when we can connect with nature, we recapture the sense of oneness we once had but have now lost, a oneness we yearn for without knowing what or why.

Here, at the Fill, where life and death are apparent and very real, we are whole again.