Bad news is just bad. Baruch Dayan Emet. I have heard of two untimely deaths in the last few days, meaning young people. In fact, younger than me, with young families, without warning. Both who died in their sleep. It is too hard to imagine, so I will go on to dedicate this and any learning that I do to their memories.
I have been reading a wonderful non-fiction book that I found through the magic of the internet (and my wonderful local library, what a marvelous invention). It is called The Life of the Skies by Jonathan Rosen, editorial director, Nextbook/Schocken Publishing Series. From the NY Times review:
“What to make of a diminished thing?” is the question hovering over Rosen’s book, one that refers both to bird populations and to the world in general.
That quote, which comes from Robert Frost’s poem The Oven Bird, directs me now to ponder. I don’t ponder, but I need a word that shows a loss of direction. My husband loves birdwatching. I am amused at his obsessiveness about this kind of name or is it that one and the running to the books to check. Or the sharing of photos that he does with some people who are as taken by the identification quest as he is. “Yes! It is a rugtiered flipwinged fleegelmeister! I thought they didn’t come here before April 5!” Or some such thing. What is so captivating in this book is his connections to so many things, including poetry, explorers, and Israel.
Here I sit up and pay attention. For those of you who aren’t aware, due to Israel’s geographic crossroad position, it is a perfect spot for watching spring and fall migrations of the big birds. They take breaks flying back and forth from Europe and Africa, what’s known as the Syria-African Flyway. I haven’t been in Israel during the migratory seasons since we lived there over 30 years ago, and I wasn’t aware of this phenomenon then. The seasons also happen to correspond to times of rabbinic/teaching obligations, so we haven’t been able to arrange a visit to correspond with this time.
In the book, Rosen describes his meeting with Yossi Leshem, who, among other things, is now creating an International Center for the Study of Bird Migration in Latrun. He was surprised that Leshem was wearing a kippah, since he didn’t think that observant Jews were birdwatchers.
All of the above was leading to this, you see.
They’re not. We’re too busy being observant of the food going into other people’s mouths, the clothes other people are wearing, or not, the things of the minutiae of our lives. We don’t look up, way up. Or way over or way past ourselves. We probably can’t do it too much; self-preservation means we have to see what is around us.
But we must not let our lives get more diminished.
So look up. Don’t worry about what they’re called or where they were, but look to their beauty, and be grateful.