Friday, February 25, 2011

Tales of the Koko Lion, Part 21: Two Feathers, Second Feather about the first feather

Koko stood on the deck, looking across upriver to New York, to the promontory at the bend, but he didn't know why. He didn't...but then he did.

It had been a couple years. A couple difficult, challenging years in every way, except in the ways it mattered most. His work had gone disappointingly, one remarkable opportunity after another had taken a sudden turn south, until it seemed that you just couldn't even make the stuff up anymore. His big breaks had all broken. How could he be put in such unique and impossible rooms, only to have their possibilities evaporate? He worked his tail off, and yet nothing had taken flight, except his capacity for Love, which drew in the sky. His heart was full and open. She was always there. Food was always on the table. They lived a frugal life of sheer abundance, which didn't seem possible to them either. But it all worked out, somehow.

He knew the lessons he'd learned from the river, just sitting and listening to the wind, the songbirds, the bullfrogs, the sundance writing on the passing water, and the eagles' calls from the top of the white pines; it all taught him how to live a different way. An impossible way.

Now, he was being tapped on the shoulder again, by the unseen. It was telling him, the same way it had before, that the eagles had another feather for him. Another feather? Another feather. A different one, for a different reason. Look over there, they whispered in his ear, where you're looking now.

His neighbor had offered the loan of his kayak, whenever, so he took him up on it and set out upriver, rowing against the lighter current close to the bank, and then cutting across to the shallows on the other side. The sheet of water over the smooth river rock field got so thin his butt dragged and hung up on the bottom; so he hopped out, and ported the kayak up to a channel near the far side. New York.

Almost as soon as he arrived at the point, he knew he wasn't going to find anything, even though This is where you have to look for it, was what he kept hearing, with that same insistence as before. He floundered around in the lush, leafy undergrowth on the bank, looking up into the virdant cave trails that the animals had made, but he wasn't going to find anything but deer ticks in his hair, if he was willing to look for those. Or if Suzy would.

Why do they tell me something that's right, but not right? he thought.

About a week later, he repeated the futile exercise again, and then again, until his neighbor asked him what he was doing with his kayak, and all he could think of to say was, "Oh, nothing, really...just going for a paddle..." And now it was loud again in his ear, making him a little crazy, making him walk back out on the deck, peering purposelessly across the river to see what was much too far to ever see. This is crazy, he thought.

Right at that moment, a big female eagle hopped out of her New York tree on the point, and wheeled down south over the river, heading his way. She flapped her huge wings a couple times, gaining altitude and just as she did, a single white tail-feather fell from her fanned tail, fluttered lightly down, and set atop the current in the middle of the river. His heart stopped. There! They silently hollered in his ear.

"Hey!" Koko hollered back.

"What?" replied Suzy, who was planting flowers in the Vole's Garden. "Did you want me?"

He ran in, changed into a swimsuit, and ran down the rock steps, yelling crazily, "Watch that white spot on the river and tell me when I'm close to it!" and he dove straight in.

"Keep going out!" She yelled. "Keep going!" He could see it, when he craned his neck up above the little waves in the river. It was coming right to him, bobbing along, and when it arrived, he was right there for it. He put the quill shaft between his teeth, and swam in through the suddenly cold water, to his big sitting-rock. He held it up in front of his face, fourteen inches of a perfect, snowy white feather, just deposited magically before his eyes by the great female eagle whose awkward, oversized "chicks" would spend the summer learning how to fly out over that same piece of river.

Koko amazed, How and why, in the entire world, could a man be standing where I was standing, looking where I was looking, and see that, if it isn't for me?

The white feather is for having survived the years that so many never survive to see. The years until your head and tail strike pure white. Now, you know just how big this vision of life is. You've learned the lesson of Action and Repose. You can wait for it, and watch for it, but then you must dive in and swim to reach it. Have faith in the unfailing wind, in the abundance of the river, in the heavens in your heart. Now you know how to grow. Now you know how to fly.

Later, at the little town's street festival, Koko told the abbreviated tale to a woman at an Eagle Conservation booth.

"It's against the law for anyone but an Indian to have an eagle feather!" She snapped with authority. Koko could only think, I don't think she understands how it happens...

"My great-great-grandfather was Kickapoo," Koko said softly. He knew it was okay, in his heart. His grandfather tapped the woman on the shoulder.

"Oh...well..." she sidled and smiled a bit, "then it's okay, I guess."

.....................................................................this just popped up the other day

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