Monday, November 22, 2010

a bird named Bird

Zooey Deschanel  
Sugar Town  
(500) Days of Summer  

I have a bird who hates Zooey Deschanel. Which is unfortunate because I love Zooey Deschanel. I was playing Sugar Town one night when he started freaking out. I was afraid his squawking would wake the neighbors so I had to shush Zooey and work in the deafening quiet.

Okay, so technically he’s not my bird. He’s no one’s bird. One day, he just crashed into our house. Swerte yan! my superstitious aunt announced and so we kept him. We sent the maid out to get a cage for Bird (yes, we named him Bird. We are that imaginative.) but it seems she underestimated his size. The poor thing barely fit in his new home. If he escaped from his last home to look for freedom then I’m guessing he wasn’t very happy about where we decided he would live.

For something fluffy and yellow, Bird is pretty ill-tempered. He squawks like a madman when his food’s late. It’s impossible to work around him because he hates all my songs. In the morning, he flaps his wings really, really fast and it sounds like a bunch of winged demons just escaped from Hades to attack me.

My best guess was that he was miserable because he was in such a small cage. Bird flaps his wings but can’t go anywhere because of cruel Physics laws. I took it upon myself to find him a proper home but since I’m lazy and I procrastinate way too much, it took me about a year to find Chez Bird- a fancy, two-storey mansion with rods to perch on and a neat ol’ swing. It was everything a bird could ever want. I was certain he’d be pleased.

He wasn’t. For days, Bird was quiet. Oddly enough, he didn’t like his perches or his swing. He just stood there on the cage’s floor as though his life depended on it. This is for your own good, Bird. I assured him. You wanted this, remember?

I tried to poke him with a cotton bud but he was practically immovable from his spot. He would inch a little but as soon as his white invader left, he’d be right where he started. After some time, I realized he was still living on the floor space of his last home. Move, Bird! I scolded. This space is yours for the taking! He wouldn’t listen. I tried to cheer him up by playing that Incubus song* he enjoys and getting him the expensive bird seed he likes but he just stood there with a hollow expression.

He stopped making strange noises whenever I play the songs that I like. He stopped flapping his wings early in the morning. He wouldn’t even look at me. For days, he stood there as though he was at the end of a long death sentence and I didn’t know what to do. I was puzzled. Why wasn’t Bird happy?

I was happy in my loneliness. It sounds strange but I was. I loved wallowing. It forced me to write. But then all of a sudden, the stars aligned and I got everything I ever wanted: my family was complete again, A and I fell in love, I got promoted*. Why couldn’t I be happy?

For years, I searched for stability and now that it’s here, I don’t quite know what to do with it. What happens after they ride into the sunset? What happens after they pull away from that reconciliatory kiss in the middle of a busy airport? Nobody tells you what happens after the screen fades to black. Nobody stays long enough to see the last of the credits roll. All you should remember is it was a happy ending, done in the way that only Hollywood can.

I let Bird be. I figured he’d come around soon enough.

One day, my neighbor’s daughter asked if she could have Bird’s old cage. She was gonna use it for a project or something. I unearthed it from the mountain of useless junk in the garage. As I walked past Chez Bird with the old cage in my hand, the winged creature made its first sound in weeks.

I don’t speak bird nor do I know anyone who does but at that exact moment, on that unnervingly warm Thursday afternoon, I thought I heard Bird say something. It was strange and murky like water in an unused fountain but I understood it as though the words were my own.

As Bird saw his old cage, I could’ve sworn I heard him say Home.


Peace is beautiful but it’s not for everyone. If you’re not careful, you could find yourself stuck, looking for trouble in an effort to revert to your old self. Don’t get too comfortable, a voice tells me. It wasn’t meant to be this easy.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, VICTOR! I said "bird" twenty-two times for you.


  1. "Most people, sometime in their lives, have a moment in which they realize something exceedingly meaningful, or have some kind of religious insight by which they are tremendously, emotionally gripped and elated. They feel that now things are all right; but strangely enough, the damned thing does not last; slowly the misery of life gets into them again, and two or three years later this whole inner experience seems lost... It is one of these first elating experiences, or realizations, which one can have, but it is still necessary for it to eat its wings and come down in some solid form again."

    - Marie-Louise von Franz

  2. smart bird. caught one a couple of weeks back as well. i found him a partner, but i think they're gay.

  3. I agree that we find happiness in solitude. But this is not for everyone to realize and live on with.

    Yes, a happy birthday to Victerr :)

  4. "For years, I searched for stability and now that it’s here, I don’t quite know what to do with it."

    Ah, the classic conundrum, Nyl. What do we want after we get what we want?

    At moments like these I remember the lines an old malcontent friend used to chant:

    Man is such a contrary lot
    When it is cold
    He wants it hot
    Always wanting what is not

    You're smart and sensitive enough to cherish and appreciate your current joys, methinks. But the nagging restlessness that lurks beneath, ah, well...I think that's part of the human condition. Browning said it best : "A man's reach must exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?"

    And happy birthday, Victor.

  5. this is such a special post. thanks very much. i was also writing about a bird recently but it was of a different feather.

    felices cumple ano, querido. un besito - juan chen

  6. @LOF: How apt. I guess we can never really have perfect happiness. Not because it doesn't exist but because most of us are too imperfect.

    @Gillboard: Srsly? haha I had a lezzie rabbit once. Ang galing pa niya mag-convert. haha

    @Yas: So although it takes strength to experience pain, true courage is needed for its opposite. That wouldn't have made sense three weeks ago but I get it now.

    @Rudeboy: Your malcontent friend is funny. :)

    I don't wanna die before I get everything I want. haha Surely, Browning had it wrong. Maybe for this generation, it's possible. :x

    @John Chen: What kind? Are you gonna make me blush again? haha

    And I'm guessing that's a happy birthday for Victor? Google Translate's being a dick: "meets happy year, dear. a kiss - john chen"

  7. or we aren't willing to eat our own wings =P

  8. Nyl, gusto ko ito. I love the "talking about something", while "talking about something else".

    Pero, naguluhan ako.

    "Why couldn’t I be happy?"

    --- Is it correct to say you aren't happy? But, are you also unhappy?


  9. Great post. Thanks for sharing this useful post with us......

  10. Did you listen to Bird and gave him his home back or did you play the villain? :3

  11. @LOF: I guess I am kinda willing to eat my wings. It's like Alanis says in 8 Easy Steps. We sabotage our fantasies by fears of success. That's like eating our wings, right?

    @Kane: I think that's the part that I'm not really sure about either. I'm not unhappy. Or am I? haha

    @Floating Fountain: Hey! Welcome to my blog! Thanks for dropping by!

    @Sprial Prince: Well, he came around. This morning, I caught him playing on his little swing. When he saw me, he jumped off. I think he likes Chez Bird now. If not, he could've fooled me. lol

  12. we sabotage our happiness by never allowing any fantasy to take form --- eating ones wings means taking the fantasy and grounding it so that it is real.

  13. @LOF: I think it's because deep down, we're all afraid that our fantasies are too unreal, too insane to even dream of. That we are somehow undeserving of such hopes. If that's the case then should I be ashamed if I want it all? I think I've eaten my wings way too many times.

  14. well. eating ones wings and flying too close to the sun and having them melt off are really two different things. if such an experience can really be made real (as von franz implies), it requires tremendous work so that its no longer a question of shame/want, but of earning something that is real. a challenge to all of us with a creative soul.

  15. Hahaha. Voila!

    You are not happy, but neither are you unhappy.

    An interesting conundrum. One that bears more watching. =)


  16. @LOF: Coupled with issues of earning salvation and guilt, it's enough to drive anyone nuts. haha I guess that's the quintessential problem with going after your dreams. How can you eat your wings and keep flying? More importantly, how do we avoid being the next Icarus?

    @Kane: Isn't that ambivalence? It's not a prefect slip. I guess on a happiness scale from 1-10, I'd be a 6.5. I'm slightly happier than being indifferent. Yes, it's rather interesting but the escapist in me just wants to see what the next part's like. ;p

    How're you, Kane? I haven't heard from you in ages.

  17. Maybe Bird accepted the fact that he lives in another bird mansion now? :) O baka naman, nag senti moment siya sa Chez Bird?

  18. "Surely, Browning had it wrong. Maybe for this generation, it's possible."

    I don't believe people will ever stop wanting more. I'm not saying it's a bad thing - just the way we are.

    But because our wants are endless, I doubt very much if we can ever have everything we've ever wanted. The same way I have a difficult time believing people who say they have no regrets whatsoever about anything.

    Perhaps another friend's favorite quote is our best compromise, Nyl:

    Yes, you can have everything you want. Just not all at the same time.

  19. @Spiral Prince: My mom attributes it to the fact that birds aren't that smart. They're driven by instinct most of the time and so they're kinda slow to adapt in new environments. It's all good now, I suppose. Question is, when am I gonna start hanging on my swing?

    @Rudeboy: re: people wanting more, truedat. But perhaps since it's easier to get what we want now, it's not as difficult as it was back then. We have sex on tap, food, alcohol, even religion. To want more would be excessive. Less people are unhappy. :?

    re: regrets, this reminds me of a line from happy together. I had no regrets til I met you. Now my regrets could kill me. (tama ba?)

    Rudeboy, is it wrong to want everything at the same time?

  20. While starvation, sickness, and poverty still rule in many parts of the world, I will concede that humanity's basic living standards are still better today than a century ago. You and I, for instance, are fortunate to have a wide array of easily-accessible creature comforts to choose from aside from the basics of food, clothing, and shelter.

    But I assume we're not talking about mere material luxuries, are we, Nyl? It's often the intangibles that exceed our grasp: love, contentment, happiness.

    In that respect - and while I have no empirical evidence to prove it - I believe mankind is still as dissatisfied as it ever was. Perhaps even more so. There was a period in human history when people were fortunate to live to their 30s. Nowadays, well, the objective seems to be to live forever.

    As for this question:

    " it wrong to want everything at the same time?"

    Given that our time on this world is limited and finite, no, I wouldn't say it's wrong. I don't find anything inherently wrong with wanting to make the most of our time, experiencing all life has to offer - no song unsung, no wine untasted, as the song goes.

    No, not wrong at all.

    Just maybe a little unrealistic.

    But then again, such are dreams. And without dreams, life isn't worth living, is it?

  21. Phew! That was quite a read. This could be a totally new blogpost altogether, Rudeboy.

    Yes, after all this, it's still the intangibles we desire. Especially since we have mostly everything else available to us. Because it's never enough to just have food, shelter and all that Maslow stuff. We all need to be loved. (chos)

    re: dreams, allow me to quote the late great lennon. you may say that i'm a dreamer but i'm not the only one. :) we need dreams/goals, however unachievable they are to remind us to persist. Otherwise, what's the point, right?

    So I guess that's why I embrace my pain and I acknowledge my gaps. But it's one thing to miss the rain in the summer and quite another to look for trouble when you're already safe.

    (am i still making sense? haha)

  22. "But it's one thing to miss the rain in the summer and quite another to look for trouble when you're already safe."

    You should listen to Annie Lennox' Something So Right off the album Medusa.

    When something goes wrong
    I'm the first to admit it
    First to admit it
    The last one to know
    When something goes right
    Well, it's likely to lose me
    It's apt to confuse me
    Because it's such an unusual sight.

    I can't get used to something so right.
    To something so right."

    And yes, Nyl. You're making perfect sense,

  23. Wow Rudie, that song is so apt. Downloading now. I've never been a big fan of Annie Lennox but it's a completelty different story when she starts strumming my pain with (her) fingers. :p

  24. Why was there an * after the word "promotion"... I knew this was gonna be dedicated to Victor, but the topic was "bird"... or is it especially because the topic was "bird"? Hehehe

  25. i would just add, since this discussion seems to be rightfully, all over the place, something regarding the different decision centers in the brain and how they effect us when we encounter true meaning:

    reptilian brain: survival/fear based, fight/flight response -- instinctual brain

    mammalian/limbic brain: the feeling brain, the family/sociability brain, creator of habit -- habitual brain

    human brain: abstract thinking, language brain, etc., -- confusion brain

    when we experience something exceedingly meaningful, it is typically something that resonates but then has to be pulled out of the sky and integrated into our soul, or it will fly away (hence eating one's wings). the mammalian brain takes significant effort to change to integrate this new meaning because its like completely changing the channel of a river or re-aligning a paved road in the middle of the city. we think its easy because we are in our human brain which is just shadow puppetry. but when there is work involved in retraining our limbic brain, then it triggers all of the fears of our reptilian brain and the whole thing ends up lost on us and we are again in our misery.

    those rare and exceedingly meaningful moments require tremendous work and patience to really integrate and make useful, which is eating one's wings and grounding the experience in our soul.

    birds are good luck. but it will only remain a fleeting superstitious type thing if we can't separate the useful from the not-useful -- eating the wings and grounding the experience.

  26. @Glentot: The asterisk is a link to this tweet I had. and no, the bird had nothing to do with Victor. Tagal na to eh, I just added more instances of "bird" para umabot ng 22 kasi 22 na si Victor.

    @LOF: "eating the wings and grounding the experience"

    This really sounds painful. It seems like it's a necessary thing to do. But then again, the thing that makes birds beautiful is that they can fly.

    Sorry, I just woke up. Doesn't seem like I'm making a lot of sense. haha

  27. well, there is always neverland... but i suspect that's even more painful...

  28. I always figured Peter Pan was a little queer. haha I still find birds in flight to be very beautiful.

    Or perhaps I should try Mary Poppin's umbrella?

  29. I think we're all like Bird, in one way or another. Our dreams are limited by our understanding of our owners. And when we're surprised with a sudden, unexpected kindness, we could be suspicious or simply overwhelmed with our luck.

  30. Hey Birthday Boy! That's probably why I love the Annie Lennox song that Rudeboy posted. Perhaps we've been so used to a certain way of living that when we're introduced to a better one, it feels suspicious.

  31. Hi Nyl. Is that a metaphor of sorts?

  32. Hey Peter! I guess so. I think in some ways, I am the bird. Or am I the old cage? I don't know. I love metaphors but I'm pretty bad at hiding them. lol

  33. You better get around deciding when to sit on your swing! Time does tarry! Something I learned from the Tarot: Sometimes, the decision is more important than the choice. Not sure if it applies wholly to you and your circumstances, but I hope it helps!

  34. I think I'm on my swing now. But like any swing, it's easy to slip and fall. lol

    And your tarot lesson is something I got from a certain woman. She told me, it's not about how fast we get there or what's waiting on the other side. it's the climb.


  35. I like this post. Getting out of a comfort zone is not a common trait for everyone I guess. Even if life brings us to much better place/circumstance. When goals are realized and materialize, it makes you wonder, is there something to look forward to pa? Baka yun. Ewan. Haha.

  36. Hey V1nC3, I guess it's in our nature to persist (or rebel, depending on how you want to view it). We've been doing it since the beginning of time!

  37. Hey Nyl. Hope soon enough you'd really call it home.

  38. Hey Manech! Long time no hear! Hehe

    Yes, it's starting to feel like home every day. That's the thing about fire- you have to tame it to make it last.

  39. Miley Cirus clearly teaches stuff from the Tarot. hahahaha

  40. what a cute lawin. crashing on your windowsill and all. haha

  41. @Spiral Prince: I suppose that's why her records sell so well! More people should do it. I'd love to hear Demi Lovato talk about fortune. :)

    @Yohan: Lawin? Haha should I be expecting Richard Guttierez on my windowsill?

  42. Fyi, you're my blog of the week.

  43. bat di pa pala ko nakakapagcomment dito :(

    this struck me though "It wasn’t meant to be this easy"

  44. Hey Ced! Bakit kaya? Maybe you feel like you have something you don't deserve?

  45. Ang picky naman ni Bird. What does he/she likes? Don't tell me that guy who looks like a lesbian. Barbier, barber something?

  46. Hey Andy B.! Long time no hear. I guess Bird just takes after his owner. haha I'm a bit difficult too.

    Who is Barbier? Google tells me he is a french illustrator. That one?

  47. I actually like Kuya Kim! I find him adorable. lol

  48. i just love the way you a new fan here sir!

  49. Hey Patrick! Thanks! and Welcome to my blog. :)

  50. This was written beautifully.
    It's true that sometimes, even though everything around us is getting better, we tend to still feel incomplete, searching for what we have been really used to--no matter how uncomfortable that could be.

    Nice one, Bird. =)
    I had a guinea pig back then and I called him Daga.

  51. Thanks Traveliztera! Weird no? Parang masochistic. lol

    Kamusta na si Daga?

  52. i wish we were all like Bird. Bird knows exactly where home is.

  53. Kahit na we could have a better one?