Long before I knew that, I was infatuated with birds…well, not so much birds. Have you ever had to answer this on one of those personality questionnaires: “If you could have one super power, what would it be?”
There was always one answer for me, and it came immediately: flight.
Winged flight, unwinged flight, manual flight, mechanical flight—it made no difference to me. I still feel that way. Even writing about it now, with the day I’ve had, it still brings a stupidly cheery grin to my face.
Also, if I ever design an employee interview form, that’s going to be one of the questions on it. So have your answer ready.
The sky has always been full of wonder for me. When I was very little, I imagined that the wind was a girl with bright blonde curls who wore a blue dress that was the color of the sky fringed with white lace. With her hands wrapped in gloves of white satin, she teased girls’ hair and pulled on boys’ shirts to try to get them to dance with her. As I was very young at the time and didn’t know how to dance, I felt too shy to oblige.
At the beginning of this month, I moved out the apartment I’d lived in for nearly ten years, back into my father’s house for a transitional period between my old life and my new one. There was a nest of robin hatchlings on the trellis beside the porch, and a very angry robin mother who said her hellos by nearly dive-bombing me. Over the next few days, I watched her tiny chicks go from being unable to feed or care for themselves to leaving behind only an empty nest one morning.
The porch was profoundly quiet after that, I recall. How does the mother know, I found myself asking. How do the fledgelings know, for that matter?
Humans aren’t like that. We don’t go from nursing to waking up one morning ready to take on the world. It’s a slow process, and while I can’t speak for robins, I know for us it’s—at times—a painful one. Just this week, for instance, I’ve taken on a job I’ve never had before, with responsibilities I’ve never faced. I am mixed with elation at the recognition of my talents and the fear that I will not rise to the challenge.
While this was happening, the landlord my friend and I wanted to rent from just jumped rent up to a level neither of us can afford, throwing my New York move again for a loop, and now I’m no longer certain that I’ll be able to relocate semi-permanently there on August 1 like I had planned. The IRS audited one of my tax returns, forcing me to learn that those numbers actually come from places other than what Turbotax computes for me. When I went to sell my car (finally!), I discovered that somewhere in moving out of my apartment I managed to misplace or destroy multiple important documents, including the title for the car.
This was all buttoncapped by a heavy thunk against the big window at my father’s house that overlooks the river. There’s only one thing that makes a heavy thunk like that against the window, and I should have remembered what it was. A few days later, I was playing hide-and-go-seek with my nieces and nephew and took the long way around the house to get the scare on them. On the sidewalk beneath the big window was the corpse of a blackbird—who hadn’t seen the invisible wall between it and the living room.
That’s when I knew I had to restart this blog.
I drove out to the BMV and spoke to them. Then to the bank. Then I talked to a guy on the phone for nearly an hour about an old tax return. Today was the first day I’ve done my personal practice since moving out of the apartment (that’s two weeks), and while I was in meditation, I felt myself sitting across from my Self, and I recognized the spiral of gloom and melancholy that I had been slipping into: the same patterns that I had exhibited before I ever began a regular yoga and meditation practice.
My parents never taught me yoga. My parents never taught me how to file my taxes. My parents never taught me how to manage a magazine, or even how to edit an article. My parents never taught me how to go through the paperwork of renting an apartment, or how, when you’re tired and scared and lost, to just. Fucking. Ask. For. Help. My parents never taught me what love looks or feels like, and how it can become so easily confused.
I’m starting this blog again because I’ve chronically been the kind of bird that buries its head in the sand—and this has been one painful week of fall after fall after fall, trying to not be that bird. I’m starting this blog again because while I’m a 20-something now, I’ve recently learned from some of my dear friends that it’s hard to talk to 20-somethings about being a 20-something when you’re in your early thirties—and the time between now and then isn’t getting any shorter for me. I’m starting this blog again because there are things still I don’t know, things that I want to know—things that our parents don’t teach us, that schools don’t teach us, that nobody teaches us, but for some reason the world just expects us to know.
I’m starting this blog again because the only way I know how to deal with this much anger and joy and fear and love all at once is to write it down and put it on the wall. It’s the only way I know how to explain to people how fucked up our system is today, how scared I truly am of flying face-first into an invisible wall, no matter how confident I appear. It’s how I think. It’s how I cope. It’s how I—as a human—am learning how to fly.
And I know I’m not the only one.
According to one legend, St. Kevin once held out his hands long enough for blackbirds to build a nest, hatch their eggs and feed their young until they went out to fly on their own. I’m no expert on the matter myself, but if I have half of that man’s courage, discipline and patience, maybe I too have a chance to one day learn to hold out my hands that way.
This blog is as much for me as it is for every 20-something going through this pain while the rest of the world still seems to live in the illusion that the economy is what it was back when the president was just a cool guy who played the saxophone for fancy parties where everyone wore suits. This blog is as much for them as it is for every parent or teacher or community leader who’s ever looked at my generation and asked what it is we just aren’t getting, why we aren’t just rising up the way everyone else did. This blog is as much for everyone today as it is a record for the future, so when in ten, in fifty, in a hundred years or more when people look back and say, “What was life like…really like, for just the ordinary kids?” maybe someone will point them here.
Who am I to speak with the authority of the entire generation of a nation?
I’m Kevin. Namesake of the patron saint of blackbirds. Writer. Editor. Actor. 20-something. Fledgeling yogi.
And I’m learning how to fly.
Post-edit: I hope you enjoy this blog. If you’re a current fan, I welcome you to my personal writings, and I hope you enjoy the Music Monday I have scheduled for tomorrow. If you’re new, welcome to the archive. Enjoy what you find here. Stay as long as you like.
Photo: Frank Hurley/Flickr