In his book “Cat’s Cradle” Kurt Vonnegut Jr. has a line which says this:
“Strange travel suggestions may be dancing lessons from God.”
I read that book in college, along with most everyone else, maybe late 60’s, early 70’s. That line pulled me in from the get-go:
“Strange travel suggestions.”
“Dancing lessons from God.”
I think – and I am not sure of much these days – but I think one of the gifts of life is pretty much everyone gets their own mind and gets to figure, puzzle stuff out in their own unique way. So everyone who read “Cat’s Cradle” and wasn’t speed reading and came across that line would have the unique experience of understanding it his or her own way. All of which may simply be an unnecessary paragraph.
Travel suggestions can come – me thinking again – in any number of ways: verbal suggestion, overheard conversation, note blowing in a breeze down the lane and slapping up against your right leg, orders from the boss, a line in a book. Your wife saying she wants to have a talk.
I received a strange travel suggestion one week back, strange mostly in it’s unexpectedness…….no – it’s inconceivability. But there it was and it involved the necessity of actual travel because required leaving of home was implicit in the suggestion.
Two mornings ago, alone in the house, (not having hit the highway just yet) my son sleeping in his room, me finished with meditation, on-the-knees prayer for a grateful heart, two and a half cups of coffee later, and having sat in the 40-buck recliner purchased upon first new life in Portland – January ’09 – sitting and waiting for something, well, a dancing lesson I think, after all that I stepped out onto the front porch. On the railing, four feet away, maybe less, was a robin. It turned slightly and gave me a look. But it did not fly away. (And for all I know right then I could have been a strange travel suggestion.) It sat on the railing, eye to eye with my stillness and silence, my hush these last days.
The robin had a twig in its mouth. Maybe I should have said that first. It had a twig in its mouth and its eye on very-close me and I swear the thought came over me that you gather twigs to build your nest – robins do – and just possibly there may be times when robins get sent to make the suggestions, those strange travel suggestions. Maybe this robin.
“Yo, quiet boy, time to make a new nest. It’s what you do when the old one’s gone. You go gather the first twig and you push on from there and you might not know, with that first twig, where you’re going to build it. Just that you need it and no one’s going to build it for you and oh, by the way, we – those of us of the orange persuasion – we do it one twig at a time.
It felt like a dancing lesson.