So I'm walking into work when this rust-colored finch flits past me. The finch is in hot pursuit of a large flying bug some sort of beetle I think. The two perform an amazing aerial dance. The bug dodges left and right up and down.
The finch matches every move perfectly. Her flight
control is astounding. She closes in on the bug and for a moment, snatches it in her beak, mid-air. The bug manages to get away and falls to the ground, injured, or perhaps just dazed. The finch lights next to him, preparing to move in for the kill. I'm about two feet away from them both.
At this instant, the finch looks up at me - looks at me hard - with an expression that seems to say, "Wait a minute. Maybe I'm not the pursuer here. Maybe I'm the one being pursued. Maybe I'm the one in peril."
I step back a couple of paces. The finch no longer senses a threat. She plucks up the bug, swallows it and flies off.
I take this incident as a metaphor for life. We are always in hot pursuit of some elusive, incredibly attractive but mostly inconsequential goal. Every now and then, we look up from the chase and recognize that despite our smug, self-esteeming bravura, we are in no way in control of any of it whatsoever.
For this one moment, this is a powerfully chilling realization. The anxiety it induces may last only a second, or, in the case of the depression that such realizations can provoke, for a much longer time. Regardless, we always seem to get over it and renew the chase once again, gleefully oblivious to the reality of our fleeting and imperfectly temporal existence.
But still, we all gotta eat, don't we?
Maybe this is what this incident means. Or maybe not. As Freud should have said, "sometimes a finch is just a finch."