Bald Eagle is a showoff, a wing-spanner, a dumpster-diver after the discarded guts of tourist salmon in every Alaskan harbor I ever visited. Bald Eagle is a miracle, an apparition, a bird flying around looking for lunch. Bald Eagle is a messy builder of gigantic twig collections, with downy squeakers in the middle.
Bald Eagle will eat your cat.
Bald Eagle will eat your Boston Terrier.
Bald Eagle will eat your fear and die of it.
Bald Eagle will fly on the steady rise of your courage, which might also be called persistence.
Bald Eagle shits indiscriminately on patriots and fugitives, and much more often, on the empty spaces we haven't yet gotten around to Developing. Bald Eagle is OK with development if it involves throwing tons of its favorite offal in dockside dumpsters. Bald Eagle is even willing to be photographed, reptilian and strange, the object of every zoom lens in sight.
Do you see? Bald Eagle does not give a rat's ass about your nation, or your religion. Bald Eagle is not aware that you believe in scientific application of pesticides, or that you believe in reining that shit in, so that her eggs may have shells strong enough to contain full-term eagle young, emerging frail, sticky, and ravenous into the world. All of that is human business. Go ahead. Paint Bald Eagle on your noisy chopper, your shiny bomber, and your eight-wheeled recreational vehicle, signifying freedom and fearlessness. Bald Eagle does not care.
I am sitting in an empty room, where a Meditation for Well-Being class has been unfolding in the following way: nobody is here but me. I was born, and so I'm free, so happy birthday. It's stuffy in here. I walk to the Building of 1000 healers and leave Meditation for Well-Being postcards. I walk to the Co-op of Complete Purity and leave postcards. I walk to the empty room, grab my bag, and get out of town. I drive to the optician's and ask the lady who stood with me in the rain & helped me rescue my credit card about her trip to California, while she adjusts my glasses. We talk about how it would be great if there were a kind of vacuum tube you could hop into, and it would take you to the West Coast, without having to spend 16 of your precious hours in transit. Her colleague tells me her friend fell down the stairs and broke her ankle, because the vacuum cord took her down. We agree this is very bad. I volunteer that I avoid such risks by vacuuming as little as possible, which might be a different kind of bad. The California lady says, but probably you have a broom? Yes, I say, I have a broom. Sweeping reminds me of my grandmother, and my mother, she says. I love sweeping, her colleague says, just like I love hanging out laundry to dry. I'm probably the last person alive who still does that. No, me, too, I say. We are giddy with shared celebration of the ordinary stuff we do, that seems somehow exalted, even though you would never paint a clothespin on a motorcycle, and you'd never catch a bald eagle sweeping the dog hair out of the living room.
I drop off cards at the Center for Holistic Healing, where I meet a guy who must be a therapist because he goes in the door marked Staff on one side and marked Great Room of Meditation on the other. He is so nervous his eyes are bugging a little bit out of his bearded face, and he is shuffling a yellow-and-red apple back and forth from one hand to the other, like a ball that he would very much like to lob at everything in the world that is currently making his skin feel too tight to contain his being. Like me, for instance. He shows me the Stuff Shelf, where stuff goes, and I carefully line up two Meditation for Well-Being postcards next to some other pamphlets. May it be so.
I get back in the car, and decide on a route. Waiting in line for road construction, after the place with the two side-by-side gypsy caravans, I look up. Bald Eagle. For real? Yes! Bald Eagle is right up there, above the people sweating in fluorescent yellow clothing and hard hats, just wingspanning along, white tail, white head, looking for lunch, silhouetted against a cloud, catching the sun with every taut edge of her body.
My phone goes, and it's the cancer anxiety psilocybin study guy. What? Bald Eagle and psilocybin study guy, all at the same time? I am answering carefully, and I am driving along carefully, though the road and the world are shimmering like crazy. My voice is calm and clear, and so is his. I realize this is a conversation I can have without needing to self-edit, and in that clarity I am being heard by someone who is receptive, grounded, interested, and interesting. Out of some form of modesty, I don't tell him about Bald Eagle.
Bald Eagle goes on her way. I park under the tree outside the park where we meet for Notebook Club. I don't know where this all leads, this driving along visiting co-ops & healers & centers for jiggly therapists & teaching classes where no one shows up & listening to unctuous-voiced actors reading the words of Tibetan masters. I don't know where this goes, this fire to be contagious & awake & receptive in the world. It goes here. Watching a fat-as-fat woodchuck snarfle grass into his little furry face, sitting with Larissa and Sam, being cooled by the breeze coming up off the river, now that the thick of the heat has stormed off.
Bald Eagle is a psychedelic therapist. Bald Eagle is a woodchuck. Bald Eagle adjusts my glasses, so I can see the world, and then flies on. Bald Eagle is a religious professional, a shaman, a broom.
The crows chase each other around the sky, and the trees sigh with contentment. Sorrow is everywhere and nowhere, just like well-being. If I had a motorcycle, I'd paint a woodchuck on it. If I had a broom, I'd call it Eagle.
The hand, the mind, and the heart come to rest right here, while the woodchuck nibbles on.
108 Names of Now