pinion


pinion noun. the outer part of a bird’s wing including the flight feathers

Several months ago I went for a run in the mountain reserve near my home with my son in his stroller. I remember not feeling particularly well that day and being in a bad mood about something I can’t recall. Running is a stress reliever for me but I always listen to loud music in order to ignore the pain that running causes and to not hear my own huffing and wheezing all along the way. That particular day, I had forgotten my earphones. Like I said, I was in a bad mood but I still needed to run because I knew it would make me feel better. Instead of focusing on music I focused on the nature around me and tried to ignore my bodily groaning. I noticed a sparrow in the middle of the trail, not flying or walking, but just looking up toward the sky. Of course when I got closer to him, he took flight, but I was left with an amazing feeling that things would be okay. That all I had to do was remember to look up and the sky would still be there the same way it was for the bird.

Throughout my life there have always been symbolic birds. It all started with my mother when I was a child. I had never met her father, my grandfather. He died when my mother was around 20 from a heart attack, but I can tell that she loved him very much. She always told me that her father came back as a pigeon after he died. Now, we are Catholic so we don’t believe in reincarnation, but my mother was very sure that whenever she saw an animated pigeon, or one that stood out among the rest, it was her father. Maybe it was because her father used to keep pigeons on the roof when she was growing up in Brooklyn or maybe the pigeon’s stout stature and tenacity recalled fond memories of her dad. Either way, my grandfather is a pigeon.

The first grown up book that I ever read was Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I still have the paper back copy that my dad gave me and have read it over and over again. I kept the same bookmark I used as a kid in the book and every time I open it to read I feel like I am sitting by the pool at my grandmother’s house in Bergenfield reading it for the first time. I’ve noticed over time that memories of my father become fainter and I have to think harder to recall him. This book is like a totem for my memory. If there were ever a fire in my home and I could save something other than the obvious – baby, husband, dog, wedding photos – I’d reach for this book next. In a way, if my grandfather is a pigeon then my father is definitely a seagull.

But back to my bird story. So this sparrow I saw was looking up at the sky and I had never noticed a bird doing that before. Usually the birds that I see are scavenging for food or picking up bits of garbage to build a nest. Somehow I feel connected to that sparrow. He wasn’t looking at the sky because he longed to fly again…he took off and flew seconds later. The sky is a sort of home to a bird…second only to their nest. Perhaps the sky can be my second home as well. The place I look to in order to clear my head and get above all of the nonsense clouding my sight on the ground.

The sky is special place that only clouds and birds can really call a home. People and planes can visit it to get from here to there, but not really experience the sky the way a bird can. It’s interesting to think about skydiving and space needles and all the odd ways humans interact with the sky. It is as if we go up high to make where we actually reside and live every day seem a little more special so that when we go back down to the ground, we have a different perspective.The difference is we have to work pretty hard to get above the ground to look down. The sky is always there in abundance and all we have to do is look up for a different perspective.

Who would have thought that keeping your head in the clouds would help keep you more grounded?

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