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Cougars and Humming Birds

17 June 2013 | Category: Stories | Author: Clare

' The hummingbird stores no fat so if it cannot find flowers it will die. It hibernates every night, waiting for the first sunlight to warm its wing muscles enough to fly to a flower.'

Wild: An Elemental Journey, Jay Griffiths

Like a cougar that must kill frequently to satiate it's appetite (and more importantly provide fresh meat, the burden of any obligate carnivore), the life of the humming bird flutters around the most basic level of existence.

It is life pared down; it is reading, not satellite television; it is travelling by bicycle not air conditioned car; it is collecting water from a river and washing from a bucket, not luxuriating in a temperature controlled jacuzzi tub.

It is pure existence, nothing more.

Freedom from everything but the essential; stripped of everything superfluous. Not because of some moral consideration, or lifestyle choice. But as a simple consequence of biology.

The humming bird's inability to store fat. The shape of the cougar's skull, jaw, and teeth.

Pre-destined to this libertarian necessity. The paradoxical handshake of unfettered freedom, shackled by the demands of pure survival.

Watching the birds flitter to and fro the sparkling purple, glass ball that hangs outside the window, twirling gently in the breeze; the feeder in an infinite dance with the fed.

Their presence is simplicity itself. They hover, feed, and are gone. No time for conversation, no time for superfluities.

In turn, the cougar prowls along the edges of thickets, and tree lines. Waiting for that perfect burst of speed; that perfect assault; with hind legs proportionately larger than any other felid, leaping 40' onto the backs of it's prey, breaking their neck with a combination of force, iron clamped jaws, and dedication.

The delicate, and the savage. Each simply surviving; their conversation with other forms of life, a necessarily brief one.

Sitting in the cabin, watching the perfect, tiny, ergonomic forms of the humming birds flit from window to window. Hearing reports of cougars, sighted slinking from one tree line to the next, not 2 kms from the cabin.

My own existence seems weighted, and clumsy in comparison.

Never will I move with the efficient ease of something that simply has to succeed, else face the ultimate circumstance.

Never will I know true liberty that way; freed from any other motivation. But I will also never be burdened with such deep rooted need.

Unless of course you stray from the bounds of the physical.

Our modern lives are clumsy, and insulated.

I wonder at the character we would cultivate, if we actually had to face our own demise as a consequence of our potential failures.

Perhaps not only would we try harder; presumably we would live harder. We would truly know the moment.

If I were to meet a cougar out there on the trail?

Would I lose that fight, simply because my psyche has not been honed to insist upon success.

Would I lose that fight, simply because my will to live has not been let breathe frequently enough; has not been challenged enough.

It is not just physicality that wins metaphorical, and physical battles.

It is your commitment to the cause.



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