essay by Riverdave Owen
painting in oil (1946) by my mother, Phyllis Owen
This week a Mockingbird sang all night long below my window on Fifth Avenue in Harlem. I have experienced this phenomenon on several occasions before but never for an entire night for days on end. Taking this to be an omen, I pondered what this might mean for me. I even asked "Alexa," an option my children and grandchildren routinely choose in their home. She replied that male mockingbirds may sing all night when searching for a spring partner. Well that was not helpful to me because I already have a partner.
As the week in New York City stretched on I began to consider this issue more, it occurred to me that this actually might be a personal yogic challenge for me. All of us are on a lifelong path in search of our true self. In the practice of yoga the goal is the discovery and awakening of this true divine self or Atma. Perhaps my entire trip to visit my family in such a strange place as New York City (I am a naturalist!) is a metaphor for my own life pilgrimage and search for my true self. Alexa just might be correct after all!
When I landed at Raleigh-Durham Airport at 10 PM last night I proceeded to Park and Ride lot #3. I was the lone person on the bus. Eventually I stepped out in search of my car in that vast parking lot of thousands of vehicles, another metaphor in itself. Immediately from atop a streetlight a mockingbird once more struck up his medley. I was dumbfounded! I paused and made a recording. I then proceeded on to my car, paid my bill at the exit and turned onto the highway that would take me to Interstate 40 west toward my home in Durham, a route I knew well and have traveled my entire life.
Within a couple of minutes I realized I was not seeing the usual signs. I was on a road I did not recognize. I decided to continue to drive west because I would have to eventually come to either highway 40 or 70. I drove for an hour completely lost, not recognizing the name of a single road - highly unlikely for a Durham native. I was lost. But I knew that eventually I would have to hit highways 40 or 70 and I did - but coming from the north in Wake County! This was a literal impossibility because there are no bridges or tunnels on 70 for me to have inadvertently crossed that would have put me in Wake County. Although stunned, I did not panic but instead calmly turned west onto 70 towards Durham and I was home in 30 minutes. There is so much for me to unpack from this drama in the coming days as I ponder this gift of the mockingbird's song ...