Friday, November 28, 2008

Wise Old Owl

I was running through some photo archives this morning and ran across this one. I took it almost exactly one year ago when the owl made a rare daylight visit to a tree just outside the building where I work, right in the heart of downtown.

Owls are associated with wisdom in many cultures, and with death and dying in some. Greek, Native American, and Celtic mythology are filled with references to owls. What is it about the bird that creates such powerful connections?

Owls appear to be silent watchers. With eyes focused straight ahead and 360 degree field of vision, they observe without speaking. With faces that don't show expression (at least not that the majority of us would recognize), they appear detached, remote, just watching, waiting for the right moment to snag a meal or move along to avoid danger.

I supposed we all recognize on some level that observation is one of the keys to wisdom and that talking all the time doesn't leave much room for observing. It's possible we even recognize that, no matter how much you observe, much of it doesn't require comment. There have been many times in my life where I would have been wiser to remain silent!

Maybe our younger self knows, too, the wisdom of detachment. We are all connected, all made of the same stuff, and yet we all move and live and operate separately. We have an enormous amount of influence and very little control over all but ourselves. Maybe the owl teaches us to know the difference.

To not use our influence where we can is cowardice; to attempt to control what is not ours to control is madness. Wisdom is in knowing one from the other, acting with skill and courage where we can, and gently detaching from those things that are not ours to change. I think Owl might have been influencing the original author of an old Mother Goose rhyme:

For every ailment under the sun
There is a remedy, or there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there be none, never mind it.

May we all have the courage to exert whatever influence we have for the good of all, and the wisdom to let go of what is not ours to control.

1 comment:

  1. Beautiful beautiful picture and great observations Linda. Reminded me of "The Silent Watcher" Eckhart Tolle often refers to, or the Awareness (with capital A) mentioned in Buddhism and other Eastern religions.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Peace and blessing.



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