Some People Live in the Matrix. I Live in a Hadron Collider.

It has been a crummy month.

I have had more balls thrown at my head, more rugs pulled from beneath me, and more Charlie Brown and Lucy football moments in this short space of time than an Amazon warehouse has isles.

One wretched thing after another has befallen where I find myself looking up into the ether and wondering if it would be easier to find the nearest cliff to leap off, or if I should just become a comedian and work out all my trauma on stage like everybody else.

Also, my beautiful, newly installed woodstove has become a deathtrap for bluebirds. Countless feathered friends have been falling down the great length of pipe, fluttering for hours in the dark with no place to get a footing until, exhausted, and like Augustus Gloop, who fell into Willy Wonka’s chocolate pond and got sucked through a body-hugging pipe, the birds find a way to squeeze themselves through tiny crevices and make their way into the glass encased box of the wood stove itself. And there they sit. Panicked. Anxious. In wholly unfamiliar territory. And they have no idea how to escape.

I have called my woodstove company—these feeling, and oh-so-brilliant installers I have written about in the past—who have simply laughed at the number of phone calls they’ve gotten in just one week over this very same issue.

Why is there not some form of wiring around the cap of the chimney? I ask.

Well, cuz that’d be bad for the health of the chimney, they state.

And what of the health of the bluebirds?  I add.

I can hear them tsk. Yer just gonna have to find a way to communicate to them that what they’re doing is stupid.

I sigh.

I count fifteen avian rescues I have made this week alone and reflect on how one of the main contributing factors to my terrible-horrible-very bad-no good month has been the inability to communicate some of the most basic, necessary, and essential needs I required.

If I couldn’t do it for myself, how would I presume to do it for others?

I marvel at the irony that my life’s work sits firmly beneath the umbrella of communications and yet my transmissions are received as garbled, twaddling claptrap. I am a writer, an educator, and an editor. I work with language all day long, and yet I have fallen flat on my face and repeatedly taste the same snoutful of dirt, always lifting my head, blinking around bewilderingly, wondering how the hell I’ve landed here again.

I reach carefully into the woodstove and put my hands around a tiny, terrified bundle of fluff. I feel it whiffling about between my enclosed fingers. I release it through an open window and say after it, Don’t make the same mistake twice. And then, moments later, there is another bird—surely not the same bird—flapping and frantic, coming down the pipe.

I go outside to look at the chimney.

Ye see, the indifferent installer lectures me on the phone, the idiot birds are damn straight positive they should be making a nest in that there tiny space up top. They think it’s the right thing to do.

All month long I had been positive I was doing the right thing too, but just like the bluebirds, I kept falling down the pipe.

What was it that made both the birds and me fail to see the futility of our actions and the physical and mental harm we were putting ourselves through?

Was it trusting our instinct? Allowing a bypass of brains to follow a simple responsive reflex? Was it relentless and unquestioning doggedness?

Maybe we were all testing Einstein’s famous quote describing insanity as “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” But lots of smart people do that. And they do that for their jobs. Because this is how the world actually works. Physicists smash the very same particles together repeatedly—trillions of times over—in a precisely repeated fashion, and guess what? The results are not the same. They are vastly different. Physicists are not insane.

I am not insane.

My bluebirds are not insane.

Perhaps, we all live in a giant collider, where in the world of quantum physics—the land where the bluebirds, the physicists, the particles, and I apparently live—we are playing under the rules that chaotic randomness and wild variability are the norm.

Maybe in this landscape, there is a chance that I will express a string of words that will deliver the exact meaning they are intended to present. Maybe in this realm, the bluebirds will discover that nestbuilding in a springtime chimney is a brilliant decision under certain realities.

In some scientific circles, the argument is not one defending the accusation of insanity, rather the complaint of not having full access to reality.

Suddenly, I am wrenched back to a very shrill state of consciousness where I see my cat, who I SWEAR I’d locked in another room, come dashing across my feet, a squeaking tweetstorm of flapping feathers in her mouth. A chase ensues up the stairs, under the bed, and into a corner, where I finally snatch the poor songbird from the literal jaws of death.

I soothe the tiny creature and take it outside where, waiting for it to catch its breath, I whisper, I’m sorry. For both of us. But this certainly sheds light on one bit of controversial science. Obviously, we did not prove Schrödinger’s alive or dead cat question, but I do feel we’ve cracked the back of existing parallel universes, as I swear that animal is still locked away in my office. So, there’s hope for us yet.

Which is when the bird turns to look me in the eye and say, They call ME crazy, but you’re the one holding out for a Netflix comedy special.


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Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all gossiped about down in the pub. Or check out last month’s post and catch up.