As published in The Vineyard Gazette.
So, every day all summer and even into October when I take my ridiculously embarrassingly short bike ride on Lobsterville, I scan the grasses for the white egret, stark in contrast against the hundreds of various shades of greens. When I see her, I sometimes gasp right out loud. Once in a while there are two and that’s a double header. At the end of August something happened.
I’m on my usual road trip (I know, I know very short, I’m the one who told you in the first place how short it is) and I look up and out where I always look up and out. I don’t see one and I don’t see two. I see, hang on, wha?t, I see twelve! Twelve egrets! I almost fall off my bike.
Wow, where did they all come from? Are these maybe the babies? But they all look the same size. Have they always been there and I never saw them? Impossible. Totally impossible.
None of this is earth shattering, but now comes the philosophical part of the piece.
The very next day after my big bonanza I am riding along looking forward to another thrill, but what do I see? One. One lone egret. I am so disappointed that I almost don’t look. One lousy egret? Are you kidding me.
So did I say hello, my one beauty? Good morning you gorgeous elegant bird, you. Did I mutter under my breath, such grace?
No. I did not. In fact quite the opposite. I felt a loss. I felt where are they? What happened? Was this some kind of tease? You take me to a smash hit on Broadway opening night and in the middle of my applause and my standing ovation you take me back to the rehearsal studio.
One egret? That’s your big deal? How had I been thrilled with only one and why do I now feel cheated, depleted, disappointed, lacking, wanting more. Where is my full Monty?!
I spend the rest of the day ruminating over what this is about. How could something that felt so beautiful and special suddenly seem less than. I start thinking about iPhones 5 and 6 and 7 and 8, and iPad blah blah blah, and flat screen and HD and robot vacuum cleaners — the newest, coolest, keenest, sharpest, thinnest, lightest new device.
This is the downside of getting older. Comparisons. When did we switch from loyalty to immediate gratification?
I can’t help thinking, what happened to the value of driving your car until it literally couldn’t move anymore, fixing the toaster until you admitted that it’s enough already only having half the coils working, turning the bread around, burning on one side and having undone toast on the other.
Only eight months ago this iPhone was perfect. Omg, look at everything it could do. Now it’s old. Too short, too long, too heavy, too light, not enough mega schmites.
Once you’ve been introduced to something new and seemingly better, the original awe has lost its power. Is this just human nature? Am I that fickle? How could I have abandoned that pristine feathered creature for numbers, sheer numbers. I thought I was better than that.
So today I’m going out in the cold (walking, not riding) and I will look for her. And I will honor her one-of-a-kindness, her snow flakedness, her naked beauty. And if I should be lucky enough to catch a teeny glimpse, I will try to remember how I felt when I first saw her, and then I will turn to her and I will bow.
PROMPT: I Forgot Just One Was Enough....
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