Local Birds and Non-grasping

A fantail zooms by inches from my face and lands, on a branch just a few feet away, so close that I can clearly see it. For the next few seconds anyway.

Fantails don’t seem to sit still more than that. A tomtit, cute and tiny, smaller than the leaves of the broadleaf it hops among, pauses to give me a look with a little beady eye. Or maybe it’s just sitting there, minding its business.

Do I watch and see all I can now, my eyes open, my senses present? Or… do I reach out for the little glass-metal-plastic rectangle, fumble with the touchscreen and buttons, just to snap a fuzzy image to remember the moment I already abandoned by?

Uhm… the latter, of course. I fumble with the silly rectangle while the fantail, brisk and three-dimensional, jumps to the next branch, and the next, tail and wings fanning frivolously and transiently now. The tomtit disappeared behind the leaves.

Aparigraha, one of the yamas, from yoga philosophy, is a practice of non-grasping. Non-coveting. Non-attachment. My teacher Jason once said something to the effect that when we covet, it’s always just an aspect of the desired object, not the entire complexity of it. That can be about things or people or circumstances. Or about this.

Do I grasp for something flat and fuzzy and already lost, so I can have the “memory” of it? Or do I receive the transient and three-dimensional and let it run (or fly) its course and transform me in whatever way it might?

I am here, on Stewart Island, for the first and, possibly, the last time in my life. (Not to imply anything grave, it’s simply far from home.) There are odd parts and unique birds here. There are landscapes that were not around me before and might not be in the future. What if I let them be here as they are, without grasping.

Another fuzzy South Island tomtit

New Zealand fantail’s backside (fuzzy)

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