August 4, 2008

And We Still Do It...

There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to out-carol the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen, and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain . . . or so says the legend.

Thus begins one of my favourite novels The Thorn Birds by Collen McCullough.

What I find unbearably intense in the entire novel is this paragraph.

The bird with the thorn in its breast, it follows an immutable law; it is driven by it knows what to impale itself, and die singing. At the very instant the thorn enters there is no awareness in it of the dying to come; it simply sings and sings until there is not the life to utter another note.

But we, when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand. And still we do it. Still we do it.

Yes, so many times, we do things that we know will exact a price from us. We err, we sacrifice, we love we hate . . .the list goes on. We give justifications, we give explanations, we reason, we call it our own duty, or we simply give in to the dictates of our heart. But we still do it.

And perhaps that is what makes us all human.