Friday, June 02, 2006

Cardinal directions

A little red bird lights on an empty flowerpot next to the sliding glass door that opens my kitchen to the garden and a small stand of trees. For reasons that I don't understand, he looks into my house and eagerly launches himself, rapping at my kitchen door until my dogs chase him away. Sometimes he comes back a few minutes later and sometimes he waits until tomorrow, but he always comes back.
His gaudy feathers remind me of all of the graduation regalia I saw arranged around a cake last night with my wife. Her friend's oldest daughter just earned a diploma and a celebration.
Elizabeth, the graduate, is pensive and creative. Both are traits that run in the family. I don't know her well, but I like her. She is an excellent student, is active with her faith community, and seems grounded, but like a lot of people her age, doesn't yet know which way she is headed.
I identify with the graduates. Sure, I roll my eyes a little at how they dress and have to listen intently to divine the meaning of certain words they use (I still contend that I'm not that much older), but I've stumbled back into a similar place. Two years ago, I was certain of where I was going and was well on my way toward getting there. I was in a demanding job, doing interesting work, and had skipped some of those aggravating steps that usually come early in one's career. The long hours and urgent phone calls at home wore out their welcome, as did the pay that advanced at a glacial pace, as compared with the conflagration of new duties.
What I see now is that my way was like the little bird's. He perceives his course as straight and certain, but the place he seeks is confining, maybe dangerous, and for his part a poor fit. He's gone away again, but to where, I don't know.

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