What comes to mind is a quote from James Audubon, giving advice to those using his book to identify birds. After all the field work, research and study that went into compiling the book - with its precise details in regard to their appearance, songs and calls, behaviors, etc. - to help people accurately identify the birds they are seeing, he offers, “When the bird and the book disagree, always believe the bird.” Translation: when reality and your ideas of how it is or should be are in conflict, go with reality. Despite how much effort you put into creating and establishing your ideas, regardless of how many people agree with you, no matter how long those ideas have been in place, when they do not accurately reflect and connect with reality, set them down and go with reality.
So, a dose of reality in today‘s light: there are people in the world who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer and more. This is nothing new; it has been so for ages. Thanks to the gradual progress made over time the world is more aware of this fact, but the fact itself is an enduring one and will continue to be. Among individuals and communities in this spectrum you find people in long-standing committed relationships; people raising families; people contributing to society and working to better it; people struggling with their own challenges, in hopes of overcoming them and finding some lasting happiness. In short, you find people. Before labels and categories and judgments, you find people, no different from anyone else you encounter. And the love you find woven among and throughout and extended beyond them is no different than the love you find anywhere else in the world. That’s reality.
As to the books, they are the stories and opinions and beliefs each one of us carries around, established through our experiences and continually added to over time. Some of the stories we inherit; others we create and elaborate upon and justify; and others we receive through actual books, many coming from religious traditions. There’s nothing wrong with any of these books. Stories will be told and accumulated, ideas about how and why things are the way they are will be formulated, and it’s natural to form opinions about what is right and what is wrong. The question is, how much of ourselves do we want to invest in and believe them when they disagree with reality? How much time do we want to spend using them as shields or wielding them against others to protect us from reality? How much energy do we want to put into bolstering and manipulating these books to serve our own purposes, to justify our own views and condemn the reality that contradicts their stories?
As to our personal books, we ourselves create the stories, formulate the opinions, establish the beliefs - and it’s an active, ongoing process. As such, we can let them be undone, stop creating and feeding them, question them, live without them, and instead lean into reality and listen to the stories as they unfold, be part of the unfolding. As to the actual books, we can read others alongside the ones we cherish, not to determine which one(s) is correct but to widen the field, take in other views, unlimit ourselves, allowing us to more clearly see the living bird before our eyes. Or we can discard the old books that hinder and obstruct our view and find one that more directly connects us to the breath and the heartbeat of the bird. Or we can simply stop reading those books and unite with the reality of the bird, flying and soaring and singing along with it - so alive, so free.
While this bird-vs-book analogy can be applied to many (if not all) areas of life, I want to bring it back to what inspired me to write this and what’s at the heart of it: marriage equality. Again, as I see it, today’s decision is in intimate accord with reality, affording us all an opportunity to know it for ourselves and flow along with it. Many have been taking advantage of that opportunity today, throughout and beyond our country, uniting and celebrating. At the same time (as expected) there are the grumblings about and questioning of and reasons-it’s-wronging and the-direction-this-country-is-headings. It reminds me of Gilligan (yes, from the island) and the times when the group came up with a plan that involved him doing something he didn’t want to do, such as dressing up like a girl (those of you old enough remember). There would be a close up of Gilligan shaking his head and saying “You won’t make me look like a girl, you won’t make me look like a girl…” and a few time-lapse frames later, there he is, dressed like a girl. So folks, you’re gonna get dressed up like a girl - accept it and the going will be easier. And in the spirit of the bird wandering about this post, a nod to Monty Python: that parrot you had in the old days that squawked and spoke after its wings were clipped and it was caged - well, it’s an ex-parrot now. No need to keep nailing it to the perch.
As for today’s bird, it’s a vibrant, rainbow-colored beauty, singing and squawking and flying free in all its dignified glory and splendor! Believe it.
Yes. An exceptionally good day indeed.