Day 27: Owl in Flight

posted February 23, 2018

I cannot get this owl’s face out of my head.

“I’m still thinking about it,” I told my architect, who happens to also be a parent at our kids’ school. My previous response had been to fall on the ground laughing when she sent me the image–and the approximate price range. This Owl In Flight that I thought I would have to sell my children in order to procure is not, say, the price of a car. But certainly the price of a modest family vacation. “I would not choose to spend my money that way,” my best friend said. “But no judgments.” So what if she wasn’t judging me? I was judging me. What kind of a mother would choose an owl over a family vacation?????

“You should do it,” my architect advised. We were standing in the parking lot of the school, having just enjoyed our fourth graders in their assembly. She was holding a bag of tile samples for me. “It’s not just a weathervane. It’s a work of art.”

She’s right. The owl is a work of art. Good art becomes something else.  It insinuates itself into your psyche, makes a relationship with the part of you that sees it. It transforms you. When I look at this owl, I see exactly what I want to say to my writers. When I look at this owl, I see a part of myself. A part that I love; a part that I want to be.

I should be writing a song. I know I should. Not because Katryna has a backlog of great ideas for me to play with. Not because it’s February, and I always write songs in February. Not because we now have multiple band shows on the calendar for 2018. I should write a song because I am feeling that way; that twisty way I get when a song needs to come out. I feel a little sick every time I climb the stairs and make my way through my small studio into the bedroom. I should stop. I should pick up the guitar. I should go to the piano. But I don’t.

Why? Well, for one thing, I have Little Blue to work on. Look at the progress! Look at the to do list! Today: the roof is finished for the cupola. Yesterday: the electrician came and we plotted out all the outlets and switches. I stood in the building, climbed the ladder to the loft, looked west at my neighbors’ houses, looked east to the road where my son was running, his little bare legs, knee-dirt and Cubs apparel just a few milliseconds behind his intent. I looked down into my space, where writers will come. I looked at the space above the fireplace where I will hang a work of art–that work of art has been planned into my budget. I went on the Saatchi Gallery website and found so many beautiful paintings. The problem is choosing just one. What if my writers hate what I choose?

I sat cross-legged on the loft and gazed at the space where a painting will hang. This whole building is a fantastic exercise in working at the long-held belief that other people’s opinions about me matter. Not everyone is going to love my choices. Even I won’t always love my choices. Sometimes parts of me get sick of the really terrific choices I’ve made. I live with doubt. I have learned over the years to just label it. Oh, hello, here comes doubt. I worked with so many clients, back when I was a life coach, on homing in on what their hearts really desired. On trusting that first impression. That gut instinct, that internal yes. As I sat in my building listening to my architect and contractor discuss things I don’t really care about with the electrician, a peace settled over me. I imagined the barn owl soaring above my head.

Artists don’t usually get paid well for their work. I know that from the inside. See last blog post. We don’t do the work solely (or at all) for the money. I write songs because I have to. The work the artist must have put into that weathervane should not add up to a modest family vacation. That owl is eternal.

“Another way of thinking about it,” my architect had said to me in the school parking lot,”Is that it’s about the same as the windows you cut out of the plans for the loft space.”

I looked behind me, to the roof where windows would have been if I hadn’t cut them out. I would have had more light in this attic. Someday, we we get re-zoned, this attic will be a room where people write songs. I could have had soft northern light coming through skylights, but instead, it will be dark. Instead I will have the owl.

I wrote an email stating my intentions. I got one back from the weathervane company, which is not a company, but a couple who live in a town in England fifteen miles from the Wales border. Four hours from London. I got a return email, very nice and polite. It said, “Please see image of our current owl.”

This owl is beautiful. The light catches the colors on the wings, and it’s got great energy. It’s a predator. We writers need to catch the muse, perhaps. Though more often, the muse is catching me. I swallowed sand and disappointment. They no longer had the owl I am in love with. Perhaps it was not meant to be.

I slept on it. The owl I love woke me. I made a phone call in the early morning, but in England it was business hours. A soft male voice answered in a British accent. “I am wondering,” I said, “If it would be possible to replicate the original owl. The one in flight, with its wings spread wide.”

He assured me that his partner, Karen–the artist–could make that owl. Relief flood. I pictured Karen and Gordon in some beautiful hamlet in the hills near Wales, happily making their art. I Know that’s just my idyllic fantasy, but still, it thrilled me to think of my dollars going to them. It turned out that Karen is my age, and she too grew up outside of DC. I want to visit them.

The Comments

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  1. Have you ever been to a raptor center? There was a great one when I lived in Charlotte, NC. It housed a collection of wounded hawks, eagles, falcons, but also a wide variety of owls. I never knew there were so many!

    Learning about the raptors was fascinating but seeing how the staff and volunteers care for the birds was inspiring. I guess what I’m suggesting is that delving into the essence of owls may transform a decorating decision into something deeper, embracing the natural order within which owls play a key role, perhaps even establishing a totem.

  2. Beautiful owl! I consider owls my spirit animal, my connection with my mother. She loved owls and whenever we see one (book, painting, real life), I tell Zachary stories of her. He calls her “grandma owl who went to heaven”.

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