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Retired publishing executive ecstatic with the idea of spending most of his time on the coast of Maine

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Why does that crow hop up the spruce branch by branch? Why does it preen, stop, move up a notch, preen some more? Why does it and its fellows choose this particular tree all the time?

I find as I get older that the "why" questions have become a different kind. The big ones, like the meaning of life and existence of God, don't pester as much as they did when I was 15, and 33. They still buzz around a bit, but since they're unanswerable, any time put into them seems wasted. The "why" questions for which there might be answers are much more interesting. Not the kind you can look up on Google, or even those that some specialist scientist probably can answer, but the kind that might require a bit of mystery along with the facts. I know why the crow preens, and I expect that its multivarious calls are known, but I don't know what makes it move, at what point it moves, why it moves, when no food or danger is in view. Things that move, like weather and wildlife and the human heart, have mystery, and are forever fascinating to the post-religious.

Things that don't move, like rocks and trees, provoke the deeper questions. They just are, and what does that mean? I might understand the crow, given enough study. I might never understand the spruce, unless given eternity.

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