July 28, 2013
Precious flew out the front door yesterday. Tracie was talking Peach out to see me, and Precious who always wants to be with Peach, flew out after her.
I can't blame Tracie because I've let birds escape too: Elvie flew out the door once when I opened it. And Charlie, Nova, and Zoe got out through small openings in the front porch when I left the front door open while taking a shower.
We got Elvie back, miraculously: she flew onto a telephone pole, and a Seattle City Light truck used their cherry picker to scare her down to the ground where she let us pick her up. Years later however, after Tracie gave her to a friend, we heard she'd flown out again and was not found.
Precious disappeared. I thought I could hear him to the south, and took Peach with me on my shoulder (Peach can't fly because of a long-ago wing injury). I could hear Precious giving his contact cry in a tall tree. Peach would cry, and Precious would respond. But he was high up and I couldn't see him.
A guy was sitting on the porch of a house in view of the tree. I told him the situation, and asked if he saw Precious to let us know. I took Peach back inside because it was hot and she was in danger of getting overheated.
Later I went back to look again. The guy said he'd seen a yellow bird fly east. I went to the east, but couldn't see or hear Precious, even with Peach on my shoulder.
Then, later, we heard Precious in a tree near the trailer. He could hear the other birds squawking and was squawking back. We took Peach outside again. I went around to the back of the tree and could hear him but not see him. Again, he was high up, near the top of the over-100-foot fir.
There were lots of other birds around, sparrows and some crows and jays.
I stood in the driveway in full sight of the tree where Precious was calling from, holding Peach. I visualized him flying down to us. I held Peach up high; she called to him. I think she knew it was him calling back because she looked toward the tree he was calling from.
I kept taking Peach inside so she wouldn't get too tired or hot.
Standing alone outside, I concentrated on the tree, holding my hands out for Precious to fly to.
A hummingbird flew close to me. A big fly, or bee, flew into my finger and bounced off. It was as if they knew what I was trying to do, and were encouraging me. I whistled at Precious, giving a common call that he and I often made to each other. I told him Peach was here, come back to be with Peach. At one point I seemed to hear a subtle sound from him, not the loud contact cry he'd been doing but a softer vocalization, as if he was expressing some acknowledgment of my effort to get him to come to me. I felt his chirp was affectionate.
But he didn't fly down. Perhaps he was too scared; perhaps he needed more time.
Something in me got impatient. I had Peach then, and held her up high. But after a minute or two I went inside. Tracie was still outside and called to me to tell me he flew away from the tree. I was washing up in the bathroom and didn't hear.
I haven't heard him since then.
I wonder at my impatience, if I had stood out longer would he have come back. Did my going inside make him think I'd given up? Had I given up? For that day, maybe.
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I am not there tonight. I was there earlier today but didn't hear him.
I got really depressed, thinking about him. I didn't want to deal with all the neighbors knowing the situation, showing myself in front of them out looking for him. Was this my ego overcoming me, the same type of flaw that made me get impatient yesterday? Did he pick up on that flaw and give up on me?
I fasted for over 24 hours after he flew out. Last night I slept in my car, choosing the discomfort of lying in the front seat over spreading pads out on the ground at a campsite.
Today I ate. But it was not because I was hungry. I ate out of habit, from a feeling that I should feel hungry. I want to fast longer again (I've gone at least three days before). I wonder, if I can get into a truly transcendent, meditative state, if food is necessary.
I suspect I will end up doing what Precious did. I will choose freedom, and extricate myself from the relationships that currently tie me down. I will be truly alone, and stop eating. I will die of self-starvation, like a good Jain.
Akaranga Sutra, Book 1, Lecture 7, Lesson 8:
The wise ones who attain in due order to one of the unerring states
(in which suicide is prescribed), those who are rich in control and
endowed with knowledge, knowing the incomparable (religious death,
should continue their contemplation). (1)
Knowing the twofold (obstacles i.e. bodily and mental), the wise
ones, having thoroughly learned the law, perceiving in due order
(that the time for their death has come), get rid of karman. (2)
Subduing the passions and living on little food, he should endure
(hardships). If a mendicant falls sick, let him again take food. (3)
He should not long for life, nor wish for death; he should yearn
after neither, life or death. (4)
He who is indifferent and wishes for the destruction of karman,
should continue his contemplation. Becoming unattached internally
and externally, he should strive after absolute purity. (5)
Whatever means one knows for calming one's own life, that a wise man
should learn (i. e. practise) in order to gain time (for continuing
In a village or in a forest, examining the ground and recognising it
as free from living beings, the sage should spread the straw. (7)
Without food he should lie down and bear the pains which attack him.
He should not for too long time give way to worldly feelings which
overcome him. (8)
When crawling animals or such as live on high or below, feed on his
flesh and blood, he should neither kill them nor rub (the wound). (9)
Though these animals destroy the body, he should not stir from his
position. After the asravas have ceased, he should bear (pains) as
if he rejoiced in them. (10)
When the bonds fall off, then he has accomplished his life.
(We shall now describe) a more exalted (method) for a
well-controlled and instructed monk. (11)
This other law has been proclaimed by GÃ±atriputra:
He should give up all motions except his own in the thrice-threefold
He should not lie on sprouts of grass, but inspecting the bare
ground he should lie on it. Without any comfort and food,
he should there bear pain. (13)
When the sage becomes weak in his limbs, he should strive after
calmness. For he is blameless, who is well fixed and immovable
(in his intention to die). (14)
He should move to and fro (on his ground), contract and stretch (his
limbs) for the benefit of the whole body; or (he should remain quiet
as if he were) lifeless. (15)
He should walk about, when tired of (lying), or stand with passive
limbs; when tired of standing, he should sit down. (16)
Intent on such an uncommon death, he should regulate the motions of
his organs. Having attained a place swarming with insects, he should
search for a clean spot. (17)
He should not remain there whence sin would rise.
He should raise himself above (sinfulness), and bear all pains. (18)
And this is a still more difficult method, when one lives according
to it: not to stir from one's place, while checking all motions of
the body. (19)
This is the highest law, exalted above the preceding method:
Having examined a spot of bare ground he should remain there; stay O
Having attained a place free from living beings, he should there fix
himself. He should thoroughly mortify his flesh, thinking: There are no
obstacles in my body. (21)
Knowing as long as he lives the dangers and troubles, the wise and
restrained (ascetic) should bear them as being instrumental to the
dissolution of the body. (22)
He should not be attached to the transitory pleasures, nor to the
greater ones; he should not nourish desire and greed, looking only
for eternal praise. (23)
He should be enlightened with eternal objects, and not trust in the
delusive power of the gods; a Brahmana should know of this and cast
off all inferiority. (24)
Not devoted to any of the external objects he reaches the end of his
life; thinking that patience is the highest good, he (should choose)
one of (the described three) good methods of entering Nirvana. (25)
Thus I say.
End of the Seventh Lecture, called Liberation.
The karma that made me impatient will likely bind me to more cycles of birth. I will try to fix Precious's, and Peach's and Blue and Beju's, and Elvie's, and Charlie and Nova and Zoe's, and Buddy's and Chico's and Gizzy's and Nineteen's and Betty and Tychee's and Big Head's and George's and Ginger's and Bunny's and all the other animals I've known - I will try to fix the memory of them, of some identifying characteristic that each one has, in my soul, so that we may recognize each other when, if, we meet again in other incarnations.
Perhaps we can help each other progress towards Nirvana: the state of ultimate knowledge and eternal bliss, where we are not subject to the laws of cause and effect.
Memories of Precious: feral, wild, rebellious look in his eyes sometimes
Didn't like to be picked up or petted
Sometimes flew on my shoulder and made affectionate, short, quiet chirps, and preened my face and neck gently
Hid behind a cage often at night
A guy behind the counter at a Starbucks I was in last night said "Precious" at one point while talking to the other workers. Is this a sign of some connection, some way of knowing without direct communication through scientifically accepted channels?
It occurs to me: Precious may have been calling to the other members of his flock to join him. He was experiencing the heady sensation of freedom, and was trying to communicate that.
Maybe I'll follow his lead.
Recent picture of Precious