A Morning Moment With Birdsong

A Morning Moment With Birdsong

The sky evenly grey, moisture descends calmly, quietly. Some bird’s song sounding rather akin to a child whistling poorly. This song grabs attention solidly. I know my walls absorb some tonality, change timber, perhaps limiting the time of the song. With the window open, the range expands. Compelled to understand this strange song better, I slide open a window. Slowly, carefully; trying to ensure that from which it emanates remains unaware, undisturbed, thus continuing unabated. An element of Heisenberg, I guess.

The sine wave of pitch clarifies. More tonal range, combined with an interesting harmonic. Do both pitches originate together? Perhaps a strange acoustical effect as sounds merge? Perhaps simply echo, with the scattered sound’s timbre losing elements, absorbed by the world hosting it, deflecting it?

I feel the different bell curves. One wave reflecting pitch, rising, cresting, returning to the origination. Then a pause, this few seconds of rest before recommencing. This rest the main moment of variation. Sometimes a second, sometimes several; probably due to the bird’s attention. Whatever the intent of this song: mate (highly probably given the season), defending territory, warning the flock of the nearby cat, or just filing the time alleviating boredom, I expect distracting elements effect the moments between songs more than while producing pitch. Upon tonal creation, focus centers. Pitch, volume created much the same as other moments. Instinct’s profound drive.

Volume another wave: beginning quietly, increasing as pitch rises, falling with pitch’s descent. Independent phenomena (I guess), or at least easily parsed components. All elements, however, of the experience: various sounds, materials around them, acoustical qualities, my building’s electronic hum, all layer into the gestalt of the moment.

One beauty, I find, of aging, this increased ability to refine/parse elements of life. This ability, while listening to a symphony, to discern violin from flute, trombone from French horn, perhaps first and second trumpet. This comes with experience. This awareness enables us (at least me) to experience the diversity in the moment. To experience the acoustical interplay of instruments in a symphony, or the way birdsong interacts with the environment both producing and changing the song.

We trade an ability to hear it all at once, unanalyzed, rather zen experience as we grow. Though philosophers state we must return to the original purity of experience to achieve enlightenment, my thoughts differ. Perhaps enlightenment comes when both the childlike experience mingles with the adult? We feel, perhaps, all the pieces in their entirety yet also notice the players. That, to me, fully encompasses the zen mind. A bird’s song, akin to a childish whistle combined with the awareness of all the interplay, all the random pieces that make this one moment special, unique within all time, miraculous. I expect that moment encompasses the higher mind. Childlike yet still adult. Dichotomous experiences blending together into a complex beauty. Many, yet one. Hope.

Carl Setzer

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