“Each bird sings the song its beak allows.”
This piece of wisdom has long been an important one for me, because I am too much given to repining, that is, feeling (and expressing!) dejection or discontent. Complaining is part of it. But it isn’t simple complaining, actually; it includes a nuance of longing for something, something which one does not have, and hence — dejection or discontent.
Repining is the opposite and enemy of contentment.
Instead of enough, there is only what’s missing. Instead of satisfaction, envy. This sad dynamic plays out in a realm that’s very important to me, the realm of blogging. I work hard on my two blogs. I take them seriously. I try to be informative, or entertaining, or amusing, or whatever takes my fancy at the time. I try to generate conversation, which is in the end what I (and many others) blog FOR. To expand my own narrow limited experience, to stretch my own limited imagination and boundaries.
And it works. I have a global acquaintance, through blogging, that puts me in contact, even friendship, with men and women here in the U.S., but also in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, Singapore, England, France, Germany, Canada, all over! These are my extraordinary companions in the blogging world.
This one has great camera skills and instant rapport with strangers, and she produces marvelous posts of photo journalism (Nylon Daze). That one, actually two, go adventuring all over by kayak, and their blogposts give me a waters-eye view I would in a million years never see on my own. (Wind against Current) The other one may or may not be able to sing like a bird (it doesn’t come up on her blog) but she is on intimate terms with all feathered creatures, and her posts generously introduce them to all of us. (Time and Tide)
Then there is the blogger whose world most often runs on metalled tracks (Thoughts from Finchley) and the naturalist who looks UP and DOWN and all around on her fearless explorations in the woods (Random Acts of Writing). There is an around-the-world adventuress of graceful prose, extraordinary photos, and a bent for justice (The Urge to Wander); and an elegant lady who recounts her doings (and misdoings) with wit and pointed humor (Being Mrs. Carmichael); and a photographer/philosopher who leaves many gaps for us to fill in on our own (Empire of Lights).
I’m leaving out the poets, and the bon vivants and so many! I wish I could cite each and every one. My blogroll testifies to many of these amazing people. Check them out! But when the moon is in a dark place, perhaps, and the wind blows out of the north — I also repine, because I can’t do all these things. And I wish I could. Actually, it’s worse than that. It isn’t just that I want to do everything. There’s some kind of scold or taskmaster in me who says I should be able to do everything. And I, poor chump, believe that inner Simon Legree.
To return to some sort of balance and perspective is always an exercise in humility. I repeat to myself the wise saying of Mère Tarsisius: Be content with the shape of your own beak. Don’t waste time repining. Sing the song that your mouth allows. Do what you can do. Each of these bloggers whom I so admire is doing what they can do. Each one is singing the song that his or her beak allows.
A browse through WordPress and other blogging platforms reveals are so many beaks, so many songs. In a world of hatred, furor, violence, and disrespect — perhaps we are creating a contrast, a sign of harmony, a true sign of hope. Put all our songs together, and what resounds is a mighty chorale of human aspiration, dreams, and desires. A mighty song, a beautiful song — and none of us has to sing it alone.
Who was Mère Tarsisius? The Mother Superior of the order of St. Andrew, one of whose houses is in Taizé, in Burgundy, where the sisters work together with brothers of the Ecumenical Community of Taizè in a mission of reconciliation. She was a living legend in the days when the Hub and I went frequently to Taizè, but I never got to meet her in person. Various people would relate her teachings, and tell stories about her, and that sufficed. She was Belgian, and doubtless she taught: Chaque oiseau chante le chanson que permet son bec. Wisdom comes to us in many ways.