We are creatures of contradiction ... (Principle/Hexagram 38)
One of Mary Oliver's lesser known poems is "The Kookaburras"; it's in her 1990 volume, House of Light.
"The Kookaburras" stopped me cold when I first read it in the summer of 1991. It still does, though my perspective on my -- and our -- common human courage and cowardice has gentled. Each of us is "a coward and ... a god of flowers" ... We are intrinsically both at odds with this and in quiet complement with that ... Our perceptions of and beliefs about contrast inform so much of our behaviour ... I like this; I don't like that ... This is good; that is bad ... This is right; that is wrong ...
One of our first lessons, one of the first things that we can perceive when we are very young, is difference. We come to see what is me and what is other. Distinction, discrimination, diversity. I am this, you are that. I did this ... I did not do that.
~ Mary Oliver ~
In every heart there is a coward and a procrastinator.
In every heart there is a god of flowers, just waiting
to come out of its cloud and lift its wings.
The kookaburras, kingfishers, pressed against the edge of
their cage, they asked me to open the door.
Years later I wake in the night and remember how I said to them,
no, and walked away.
They had the brown eyes of soft-hearted dogs.
They didn't want to do anything so extraordinary, only to fly
home to their river.
By now I suppose the great darkness has covered them.
As for myself, I am not yet a god of even the palest flowers.
Nothing else has changed either.
Someone tosses their white bones to the dung-heap.
The sun shines on the latch of their cage.
I lie in the dark, my heart pounding.
In each of us is the meeting place of courage, cowardice,
and consequence ...
Lift the latch.
* Photo of kookaburra by Stefan Koeder
* The image of insomnia can be found here. Thank you, unnamed artist.