The Story of a Framed Feather

Some years ago, I was strolling through the park when I found a feather.

Whenever I see a fallen feather, I slow my step and breathe in more deeply.

I interpret it as a cue to calm down and not overthink. To become aware of my body, my breathing, my feet touching the ground. To be lightly yet firmly present.

The same way that we take the sunrise as our cue to wake up.

The feather is for me a wake-up within waking. I think you understand.

I don’t mean to suggest that I believe Nature takes the trouble to drop me such cues deliberately, when Nature believes I need them.

(I’ve heard an anecdote that Paolo Coelho only starts writing a novel when he finds a fallen feather on his windowsill.)

What I mean is that nature’s chaos, the process which we can say led to the separation of that feather from the bird that once wore it, has an element of calm to it.

The calm of our knowing chaos is inevitable, that it keeps occurring, that one day it will surely upset us.

I picked up that feather without thinking about it. I did it instinctively. It seemed the right thing to do, for no particular reason.

Last Christmas, I got an empty white frame as a gift, among other things.

The frame reminded me of the feather which I had all but forgotten in a shadowy drawer.

I picked the feather, laid it on a few blank pages, and framed it.

Now I keep it on a shelf near my desk.

Whenever I look at it, it brings me a sense of calm. It anchors my attention and stills my breathing.

Even at night, when it’s surrounded by shadows and a curtain of darkness, it still has a wise, calming effect.

I do not know what bird dropped it or what has become of that bird.

But the bird and the park and that walk, they all come back to me wordlessly, thoughtlessly, whenever my eyes rest on the feather in its frame, whenever I breathe in its lightness and its calm…

The Other Cat [Three Ghostly Cat Photos]

The other cat shows up sometimes on the other side of the window.

Sometimes it comes at night.

Sometimes it comes early in the morning.

It hides behind shadows or curtains.

It looks a lot like my cat, but is it my cat?

Not that I claim ownership over my cat–often, I feel that my cat has me.

When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her.

Michel de Montaigne

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“What do you mean you don’t believe in ghosts?” someone said to me recently.

“I can neither prove nor disprove that ghosts exists,” I answered. “So I can’t believe that they don’t exist, either.”

Maybe you believe in ghosts. Maybe you don’t.

Either way, there’s no harm in saying “Happy Halloween!”

PS: You don’t need a scary costume this Halloween. If you stop to think about it, you may find that you are monstrous enough already. 🎃

Reflections: An Upturned World [5 Photos]

The upturned world inside pools and lakes or within glass–do you ever notice it?

What if it’s not only a play of light on your retina, but the other world of your other self: your mirrored, upturned twin?

A world where what does not happen to you happens, darkly.

Where the coin you drop on the floor is not heads but tails.

A world of ghosts and memories and shades that quantum physics doesn’t deny but which you cannot see except in brief, fragmentary glimpses when you walk your shadow around the lake, or late at night, after it rains. Or in some unfamiliar room where you have to spend the night.

Have you ever felt that world rising in you from the water?