Sunday Sermon

Epic Procrastination

According to Cute, little Sooty here was rescued from the side of the road. The folks who are raising him are planning on setting him free as soon as he can fly. I imagine that even after he has grown into a loud and rowdy raven, they will have a hard time letting him go after investing so much time and care in his upbringing.

I know a little bit about baby birds, so let me tell you what raising one entails. This little guy will need to be keep warm, dry, and away from drafts, so he will probably need to live in an aquarium with a heating pad for the first 6-8 weeks. His bedding will need to be changed a couple times a day. He is probably eating a mushy formula that has to be mixed up and heated to birdy body temperature before each feeding, and fed to him in a syringe. He will need to be fed about every two hours at first, around the clock. Once he is larger, he will have to be weaned off the formula and introduced to solid foods. This may mean actually gathering worms, grubs, insects, and other things that he will find in the wild. He'll need to be allowed to test out his wings as he grows, so this means giving him supervised exercise time everyday. Taken as a whole, it's a lot like raising a child, but on a much shorter timeframe - he'll probably be ready for the world in about 6-8 months.

So after all of that time and dedication, the good people who rescued him will set him free. I'm sure there will be doubt and hand wringing, but they know that this is the best thing for him. They also have the benefit of knowing from the outset that he will only be with them a short time. Through all of the early morning feedings and the poop clean-up, they know that this time is finite, and they are gently preparing themselves to let him go.

When we force ourselves to face it, all of this is finite. We have this life and no more; we have this day and no more. At some point, everything must be let go. Our friends, our jobs, our children, our lovers, our pets - all must be let go some day. We all know this, and yet most of us fail to prepare. At the end of our lives very few of us will be prepared to let it all go - and we could very logically ask, "Why didn't you make ready? You had a whole lifetime to do it."

Preparing for change is our great procrastination. When a friend moves away, a pet dies, or a child grows up, we somehow manage to be surprised by it, even though we know it is all inevitable. There just doesn't seem to be a really good time to contemplate impermanence - until we are facing death, and then it's probably too late. We pretend there is plenty of time for this sort of thinking, but what we really mean is we won't make time for this kind of thinking.

"But Linus," you may say, "this kind of thinking is really damn depressing." True, at first, but continued contemplation of the impermanence of, well, every damn thing, yields a certain grace. It gives us the proper footing when the inevitable comes to pass. It allows us to be gentle with ourselves and others when the pain of change is great. If you are the type who is motivated by gentility, then you can see this preparedness as a form of good manners. It is, after all, bad form to be graceless in the face of change. It makes the change worse for those around you, and all that wailing and gnashing of teeth won't aid you either.

Most importantly, contemplating impermanence gives us a heightened ability to wring every last drop of joy from each moment. We are made to appreciate living all the more, when we see that nothing can escape change. When Sooty takes wing there may well be tears, but I like to think that his foster parents will have made the most of his time with them, simply because they knew he was soon to be leaving them. That knowledge will have sweetened the days for them, and they can let him go with a minimum of regret.

On average, we've each got about 75 years to get ready. Are you making good use of the time?

Go in Peace.


Rachel said...

I went to that site and nearly died of toxic cuteness. Here's the funny bit. I thought it said "Cute Overlord" not overload, and that made the whole site so much better.

Mark Travis said...

RaaaH!!! I amd the Over-Lord of Cutie-pie-ness!!!

That's really funny Rachel.

Thanks Linus for the post, being out here in Nevada (someplace I've never been before), without the Tessa for two weeks and having to deal witha new job, new expectations, and getting to know new people is both interesting and stressful.

But your post reminded me of a better way of dealing with the change. It's a process that I've been through before and sometimes on this scale, but this much change at one time can really suck, a lot.

Thanks again, champy

Levi said...

Cute Overlord. I think you should change your handle, Rachel.

I won't post until my lungs are spiffy.

Big Gay Jim said...

Gack! That link should be forever removed from the internet. I developed a cavity looking at its disgusting cuteness! There were two ferrets napping in a heart shape...and there comments about the love boat. The fiesta deck...must find....insilin.

Clayton said...

on being mindful...
Every-Minute Zen

Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: "I suppose you left your wodden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs."

Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in's pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

Mark Travis said...

I don't understand the story.....

yep,.... just don't get it

Sara said...

Just wanna say hi... I'm still alive... thanks for the inspiration.

Clayton said...

it's probably a good thing you don't get it. That means you will have to think about it, and take the fruits of that thought even if it does not lead you to the story's intendended message.

His Sinfulness said...


Glad to be of service. :)


Your smug is showing...

Clayton said...

Mark, I send only love your way, despite what people may say. Namaste.

Sirus Kane said...


Whatever your convoluted message might have been... I don't think anyone got it. Here is a thought, try not being smug, being humble and not putting yourself on a pedestal with wisdom that is not your own.

Just a thought.

Levi said...

Dear pot: You're black.


The Dark Saint of Gin said...

Hey, Write again, I've even started. ,poke,,poke,

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