The scariest part of a downward spiral is the speed at which things fall apart. You are always a bad decision away losing it all. One phone call. Just one unexpected turn to find yourself in a bottomless pit. But life doesn’t come crashing down. It caves in. Crumbles under the weight of despair. Then, like some injured lizard, you try to pick yourself up. But you feel helpless. Uncoordinated. So, you collapse to the ground. And you just lie there, with fistfuls of dirt, tonguing your cheeks and hoping that this too will pass.
Conversely, when something good happens – seldom does it snowball into something more tangible. There are no formulas to sustain an unexpected burst of happiness. It can be a one-hit wonder that leads to sophomore slumps. Often, it just slinks away on its chubby hindlimbs.
Last week, I watched David Attenborough’s documentary on the Birds of Paradise. I felt a kindred connection with one of the field experts. A lady, who had spent weeks trying to document the mating ritual of the Blue Bird of Paradise. Despite the bad weather, she had persisted.
Finally, she saw the male bird dance while perched upside down. Caught between wonderment and gratitude, she turned around to whisper, “Wow, it’s our lucky day”. And I knew instantly how she had felt. The thrill of having been seduced by a stranger’s plumage.
The sum total of my adventures doth pale, like the face of an unfed vampire, to even one of hers. Still, I could relate to the moment she had shared with a fairy-like bluebird.
A couple of years ago, I had spotted a pair of the Asian Fairy Bluebirds along the Adukkum Road in the Kodaikanal hills. The male was singing his little heart out. The female flew around with bits of pinkish flowers in-between her beak. It took me a while to process the sighting. I could not fathom that I was in the midst of such dizzyingly-beautiful creatures. I had to calm myself down before clicking a few photographs of them.
Now, if I were to complain that I have seen them only twice since then, I deserve to spend the rest of my life inside a padded cell.
Because life can be unfair. Bad things happen all the time. None of us are entitled to happiness. Whether slighted or wronged, we must move on. We can kick and scream if we want to, and if it really helps. As long we find the confidence and strength to go in search of our own bluebirds.
“The world owes you nothing. It was here first”
gives way to
suspect not –
the mating rituals
of something blue.
(Photographs: Kodaikanal, Lower Palani & Valparai)