23 August 2010

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That idea that we are each in control of our own destiny is quite possibly a myth created by the same ivory-tower dreamer who wrote every Leave It To Beaver episode and Disney happy ending script. To quote one of my friends, Randy Allen: "It clogs my bullshit filter."

Oh, I'm a huge fan of happy endings. Don't get me wrong. And for all the whirlwind life-comes-at-you-fast events of the last month, I've got nothing to complain about.

My point is simply that control is an illusion. A grain of sand thinking it controls the incoming tides.

Last weekend, my family and I spent a few days with my parents and my baby brother and his family at a cabin on the Wenatchee River. "Cabin" being a relative term as it was a spacious vacation house with all the amenities: hot tub, gourmet kitchen, double-decks, BBQ grills. We canoed up and down the river, ate way too much food and blackberry pie, played tourist in the town of Leavenworth, scouted Lake Wenatchee, bought fresh peaches and beans from the local fruit stands.

One morning, a baby barn swallow must have crashed its first flight out of its nest. It fell onto the main deck where my daughters and nephew were all doing the morning chill session. My husband and I had taken the canoe across the river to look for the tracks of a mama bear and her cub reported in the area. We came back to my girls calling to me, "Help! Help! What do we do?" They were distraught that this small bird was huddled down on the deck.

My husband, always resourceful, cleared the way of deck furniture and miscellaneous child items from the deck so that the baby bird might at least run back towards the nest area. Which it promptly did and remained huddled against one of the stairs all day and all through the next night. The two parent birds continued to feed it, alternately pecking and chirping at it in some kind of bird-speak.

The next morning, the feedings continued. Then in an instant, not unlike any other instant before it, the baby bird flew away. The three barn swallows swooped out together over the river, and I lost track of them in the flurry of all the other swallows feeding on mosquitoes and mayflies over the water.

Controlled destiny? Sheer luck? I'm not a big believer in limited options, and I don't believe in luck (really), so I have to go with the life-happens theory.

The only catch is that sometimes it happens quickly. In the flash of a bird's wing.

Don't miss it.