1 ☤ Utak
I have a meeting with the magic man. He's proved his supernatural powers not once, but twice.
The first time a week ago.
I was traveling back from the Ogasawara Islands, one of Earth's purest places. It's natural being brought me close to a tear. The beautiful balance of life: plants, animals, and people, in harmony. I absorbed so much beauty in such short time...but couldn't bare further, so I went on to return south to the Marianas.
Back towards home, but not to home.
Not until things get better.
A brown volcanic island like Farallon de Pajaros would usually feel mundane, given my Ogasawara experience. But this day decided to be different.
Here, at the northernmost point of the Mariana Islands, was a man. A single, lone individual sitting on top of the volcano. Red-tailed white tropical birds flew around him. This man could've been considered a vagrant, but I felt an aura radiating otherwise, and so did the encircling birds.
I watched on.
For an hour, he just sat. No matter the strength of the winds whooshing through the mountain, or the heat of Sun beaming between each passing cloud.
At that time I didn't realize it, but now I know he was meditating.
Through such naive eyes to the world, all I thought was that he was sleeping while sitting with perfect posture. But then he disappeared! Leaving behind everything he had and everything he was wearing.
I inspected further. There I was, standing on the highest point of this island, staring at a faded outfit and a stained hemp bag.
I realize now the articles in this bag are beginning to change the course of my life.
First, I discovered some delightful fruits. Sweet grapes and berries so ripe and plump that soothed my body.
Since he vanished, I felt it'd be fine to claim them. It helped to rejuvenate for what I found next, which was information.
Information from people I feel I can listen to. I try to choose wisely on whom to give attention, or I would have to wise up from a bad choice...but the two remaining contents in the bag, two coverless books, definitely felt right to take in.
One is filled with philosophical quotes from remarkable people over time, and the other contains multiple perspectives on the spirit.
Having a constant thirst for curiosity, I peered into the pages for the next few days.
The philosophical book was unputdownable.
I read and reread quotes from many mindful souls: Socrates, Homer, Confucius, and much much more. Really tried to engrain them in my brain, so I read a few times over, and I learned many things, perhaps practical things I can practice from this point in life on.
✭SOCRATES: PHILOSOPHY BEGINS WITH WONDER. I wonder all the time, so maybe I too can philosophize...maybe I am already philosophizing and I didn't even know it. Maybe this makes me a philosophical being.
The spiritual book first piqued my interests with its idea on karma. This notion was tossed around from people I heard talking, but I never knew where it came from until then.
Makes sense before, makes sense now. Do unto others. Positive gives you a plus, negative a minus. A kid can understand this. But I guess as you grow older, you lose sight of the common, just as a man that lusts loses sight of his love.
Next thing I noticed from the spiritual book was the art of meditation. That's what the man was doing. After reading more, I realized it wasn't magical...it was rather spiritual. Magic is too out there, but spirit lives within us. It lingers and dances everywhere. Dances with the jellyfish, and even around the stars I begin to see.
His spirit expanded beyond, taking his entire entity along. Intriguing. If he could do this, then maybe I could as well.
That's when I tried. I stayed in place, released all thought, and took deep powerful breaths. I looked for my own path to enlightenment by making myself mindful, filled with concentration to be completely thoughtless.
Everything is nothing, and nothing is everything.
The dialectic that governs my and all paths.
When I felt an equilibrium in my mind and body, there occurred the second miracle of this spiritual man. He spoke to me. Although I didn't hear him speak before he disappeared, I knew it was him. I felt his energy. It was that same strong aura which beckoned me in the first place.
Like warm wind breezing through my skin, blood, bones, and finally...heart.
A zephyr of his spirit speaking to mine.
I couldn't respond at first because this was all too very uncustomary.
"How have you found my flow? Do you know what I know? Where one can enlighten his or her vigor, so may two...three...four?"
A spiritual poet, what luck.
Still, I lacked courage to reciprocate.
Like someone thinking in the shower. Replaying conversations put on rotation during every cleansing spray. Wishing to have said something more noble to win the debate, the golden opportunity, the heart.
✭PUBLILIUS SYRUS: WHILE WE STOP TO THINK, WE OFTEN MISS OUR OPPORTUNITY.
"Speak to me, oh curious one. For I am also wandering and wondering."
Nerve wracks on wracks on wraaacks! This chance had never come along, and I was far too insecure to say a word.
"As it shall be, you choose not to speak to me. But then again, maybe you'd rather meet? If so, friend, chant the mantra. Find your very own place."
I wanted to meet him.
"What mantra, you must be wondering. For that, I have no way to answer. Find your way to remove the illusions of one's mind, and retrieve the essential understanding of your very own existence. Discover yourself, and we shall meet above. Stand on the highest point, and chant with your heart. Hymn with everything, and lead with love. Non-duality. Indivisibility. In an eternity."
These were all that were said. All I needed to absorb.
Find my mantra...a psalm for myself. We're worlds apart, opposing walks of life, contrast upon contrast, yet nothing but the same.
I've gone so deep.
This experience must continue, so I stand at the highest peak of this lone island. My love for the wind where it takes me. The stars that are there even when they're not. Mysterious Moon that guides my night and watches over when I am gliding in the light. All the natural atmosphere that captivates me with joy... in which I am somehow...connected...
And then, I ascend! A golden spectrum of light shimmers in my mind, body, and soul, and I soar to the cloud above. My transcendence brings me to a soothing moisture, not completely clear for the eye, but thoroughly therapeutic for all else that exists.
And there floats the spiritual man, legs folded in lotus fashion.
His mind speaks..."You're a bird?"
"A Mariana fruit dove, as you humans like to call us," I tell him through my thoughts, surprised by the newfound valor.
He responds on the same wavelength. "How is this possible?"
"How is anything possible? How are we here instead of down there?"
"At this point...who can tell us. Could be through our transcendental meditation...but...I don't label any and all, I just be. And I never thought a bird could expand his consciousness. Then again, we are all children of Earth, and of the Universe. Individual souls with a chance of relative capability. I'm a fool to doubt."
I say, "Well, I may be a special case. I don't flock with the same feather. I am my own individual."
"As am I," he says. "I am Chamorro, a native of these islands, but I wander and wonder on my own. Perhaps this is how we've come to meet...in the oddest of circumstances. Allow me to introduce myself...my name is Shoko."
"Forgive me for not speaking earlier. It was my first time interacting with a human."
"That has passed and does not matter anymore, for we have the present."
A wonder born. This gift, the present, happening right now. True time to appreciate.
I think, "I could learn a lot from you, Shoko."
"And I, you. Mariana fruit dove, how are you talking to me?"
"I've studied your kind for as long as I can remember because I grew tired of my bird society."
"Bird society? Where?"
"On bird island. Off the coast of Saipan."
"Ah, yes. I've gazed upon the island once. A serene sight."
"Perhaps from afar, I think, but living is not so much of a treat."
"It became unbearable. It was ok at first...having gatherings and searching for food and looking to the ocean...I enjoyed some of that, but I didn't understand why they did not care to see more. I thought I was born there for a reason, so I started trying my best to fit in...but then a foreigner flew to the island, instantly changing the ways of society, warping bird island into this...fake world."
"What? What do you mean."
"Everyone adored him. They overly idolized him. This damn canary escaped his cage and barged into my home. All because he could sing. Just kept singing out of his damn syrinx like he was just breathing. This made all the birds on his jock for this talent that he didn't have to train to have. A false icon. Cheap novelty. An undeserved celebrity that took control of all will around. He took full advantage of it and I was disgusted. Didn't care to deal with it anymore. So one day, I flew away without so much of a peep. Left to absorb my own ways, not the ways of someone else. I became intrigued. Observed schools through the window glass. Learned what humans were saying. Took it all in. Reading, writing, history, math, even pop culture, all that jazz. Slangs and phrases as you can see. At least in your kind there is rebellion attitude where anything goes. Some humans are just flat out crazy as hell...but I adhered to that...not because I have completely recalcitrant ideals, it is mostly due to my life back on bird island where it seemed none of my kind had their own idea. And it juxtaposes fairly well with how your kind has to deal with layers and varieties of nonsense in different forms."
✭DIOGENES THE CYNIC: DISCOURSE ON VIRTUE AND THEY PASS BY IN DROVES, WHISTLE AND DANCE THE SHIMMY, AND YOU'VE GOT AN AUDIENCE.
He says, "You are noble, fruit dove. And very much enlightened for your kind."
I feel a shining pride from this extraordinaire.
"But you are also young and overly confident. You are full of energy, and maybe full of ego."
The shine dims a bit, as I ask, "What is wrong with that?"
"It's too much. Unbalanced. Selfish."
I don't want to inquire. Instead, I listen.
"You have complete and utter enthusiasm to see more of what there is, but you can't keep pushing forward with this idea that leads you away from the truth...or you will fill with greed, violence, hate, and complete disharmony. Take time to appreciate what you have and where you are."
"I appreciate what I want to see."
He rephrases my sentence, "You appreciate what you desire?"
I repeat. "What I want to see. What I find appetizing and worthy of my time. Yes."
The condense cloud between and around continue to keep us from clear sight.
But, we're getting closer.
"What you want, what you desire. Live free of them."
"But it's not like I desire things. I only desire experience."
He preaches with his thoughts, "Moving too fast, traveling too quick. Make your memories last, make your feelings stick. But only for a moment, and leave room for the next feeling. You've naturally gained insight in not wanting the material like many humans. But still, disasters of desire are elsewhere. Let experience come natural. Don't seek it out. Don't follow peace, let it follow through. Take time to see the beauty for what it really is. Give it the present it deserves."
"And so that is what you have done? Given beauty time it deserves? You've seen what you needed to see, and now you seem to choose a monastic living in this cloud..."
"I have my reflections of beauty with me, and it has its value whilst my present meditation."
I retort, "More like your present vegetation." A rude impulse. I shouldn't have--
"That is what you see, for our lives are in different stages. I've been through trials of love. And now, I can smile upon them. But you, young dove, have never felt true love. No experiment, no test, no result of any kind. You will not feel fully enlightened until you feel love."
I state, "I am fascinated by the world around me."
"True, but that doesn't mean you love the world, at least truly. It's you fulfilling curiosity. A selfish proceeding. Who in this world are you selfless towards?"
"I mean...I thought I--"
"Your hesitance shall suffice."
I turn it towards him. "Wait, what about you? Where is YOUR love?"
His aura shoots low, dissipating wavelengths. I struck a vulnerable vein and our connection disappears. It's a cold and lonely cloud we are in. I wait.
"I am not fully enlightened." He speaks for the first time.
I had reason to question his imperfections, but feeling guilty in the process.
He continues, "In my current lifestyle, I feel tranquility and subsistence. But I don't have full enlightenment. Suppression exists to attain a sense of satisfaction."
I respond through my thoughts, "Is this how you want to live forever? In a false satisfaction?"
He returns back to the same wavelength, "Not forever, I guess, but for now."
"Well, then, the present you admire is not the gift you truly wish."
"You speak truth, friend. It is not."
A sudden urge. "Let's do something about it! Come, leave this cloud with me!"
He contemplates for a moment, and thinks, "I must decline your invitation."
"I just can't...and that is all there is to that."
He continues, "But, you, Mariana fruit dove, you can go. Go for the both of us."
"Yes...you can. Just remember to give your trek some time. Find the valuable necessity in life. Breathe deep, and be selfless...always."
Find those unexpected connections. If you don't, they will simply be misconnections."
"You mean disconnections."
"No, even worse. MISconnections."
I ask, "What is the difference?"
"A disconnection is when you make a connection, but you eventually lose it. A misconnection is a potential connection that never happens. It becomes a missed connection."
"We have misconnections all the time. It's a constant part of our day. So the goal is to make the best potential connections possible."
"Indeed. I'll take your wise advice and give time to the beauty. It is the only way to attain MORE beauty." I can feel him agreeing with me, then I ask, "But how will we continue to communicate?"
He says, "Just feel. Vibe strong. Vibe deep. Connect."
"Do I have to stand on the highest point of la--"
"STOP thinking. Start feeling."
"Even worse. DON'T apologize. Get that out of your life."
"I...ok...well, I...I'll work on all this."
"Thank you. Please be careful. You're nobility and bravery can be your downfall. Dangers lurk in every corner and crevice. Take caution."
✭VIRGIL: LOOK WITH FAVOR UPON A BOLD BEGINNING.
With no further words, I fly over his head, out of this cloud's realm of enlightenment, and South...towards the next island of the Marianas.
2 ☤ Maug
The Maug Islands had no real significance to me before, so I've only passed through. It is, however, quite a sight if you ever give it the time. I glide upon the high-rise wind with the vast blue below until the islands are revealed. I dip my head and whoosh down.
These three elongated islands, the north, west, and east, look like abstract camel-humps; curved hills that form a cracked circle filled with water. Steep black cliffs glitter and shine like glass.
But what we sailors of the sky cannot see is that the islands are connected below. They're the peaks of the rim that makes up the the summit crater of Maug volcano.
Centuries ago, who knows how far back, this volcano erupted underwater, leaving behind remnants of volcanic cone. The surrounding coral confirms its quiescence.
However, a possibility of another discharge isn't out of the question. The ever-changing Earth and its ever-changing creatures give light to alteration, variation, modification, and adaptation. God encourages such change. God wants to be entertained.
✭HERACLITUS: MEN WHO WISH TO KNOW ABOUT THE WORLD MUST LEARN ABOUT IT IN ITS PARTICULAR DETAILS.
Being the closest and tallest camel-hump, I fly towards shrubbery on the northern island. Looks about 750 feet above sea-level. I evaluate the entire area of Maug and estimate it being close to a square mile. The Sun radiates a nice and easy humidity. Moist air, but dryer than the lower Marianas. Low and behold, this place is now home to plants and animals.
I look to my left and see a group of rare Micronesian Megapodes. Stocky, medium-sized birds with red facial skin. Small dark-brown heads and darker bodies. The dozen or so are equipped with thin feathers, a pale-grey crest, yellow bill, and large yellow legs and feet. "Keek-keer-keet-keet!"
I respond, "Keek-sneet-skeet-skeet!" They pay no attention to my trolling and go about their business. One chirps the tune from before, as the others offer a rising cackle that decelerates toward the end.
Further to my left, beyond the island I stand, I see...crows? Naw, couldn't be. Ahh! They're Micronesian starlings sitting atop a row of coconut trees. Black as crows, but lacking the crowness of crows: the shape and raven-like demeanor. I peer closer and see them swiftly shifting their heads up and down, left and right. A golden reflection from their pupils. Starlings...scheming like crows. Scheming on the low fasho. Wonder what's on their minds. Devious plots being devised on east island? It has the rockiest shore, and there appears to be an algae-covered lagoon at the southern end that bends around the back.
To my right, on west island, are white-collared kingfishers. Some blue, some greenish. Color difference in sex. As named, they have a white streak around their neck, with buff white bellies. A smaller group of birds that are bustling about on grass. Probably snagging on some nuts and seeds.
What a harsh, metallic chirp, and do they all have to chatter at the same damn time? Most pleasant looking, but most irritating.
There's a cave over there, too. Wonder what's inside. Maybe fruit bats or something of the sort. The entire island is bordered with a fringing reef of limestone.
"KAK-KAK-KAK-KAK-KAK! KAK-KAK-KAK-KAK-KAK!" Loud, redundant things.
This is nice, taking everything in. Shoko may be right in giving my trek some time. BUT, what about everything else that is happening everywhere else? I should make a move out of--
"Ooh-oooh-ooo-ooh!" Reggae, from behind east island.
Drum-beats and chimes, rhythm and bass-line. What the hell, mang. A flock of seabirds from the lagoon fly off.
The instant that occurs, the starlings storm in.
They were scheming. Those seabirds were nesting...but the next generation is fated to come later.
"Play us some muuusic!" The bird disturbance comes into view. A boat! Humans, my kinda people I think. Or feel. Whatever.
"Just the reggae music, ooh-oooh-ooo-ooh!" They enter the gap between east and west island and head toward the center.
Looks like a joyride.
I want in.
✭HORACE: MIX A LITTLE FOOLISHNESS WITH YOUR PRUDENCE: IT'S GOOD TO BE SILLY AT THE RIGHT MOMENT.
I expand my wings, flap, ascend up, and glide along the air. Sun seeps through my feathers to my skin. I pivot and circle the boat as they anchor in the middle of the islands, right above the submerged crater.
Once they settle, I plunge down and land on the highest point. A flag dances to the wind below my feet. Red border and blue backdrop with a red seal that contains a coconut tree, boat, cliff, and the word "GUAM."
Wow. I almost cannot believe these people have come 500 miles from the southernmost Mariana island to fill the air with Bob Marley, eat, drink, and skank.
There are three of them: a guy and a girl twirling with the rhythm at the front of the boat, while the other guy slaps some steaks on a grill, moving his shoulders in on the rhythm.
The mild winds carry the marinated aroma above. Sweet island-style barbecue scents accompany the Marley grooves. Enough juice to jumpstart my appetite, but I'm not the savage type.
I fly further down on a ledge that holds the sail.
The steak griller says, "Ma'ok."
The other guy asks, "My what?" He continues to dance.
"No... I said ma'ok. It means 'strong', or 'everlasting', in Chamorro. Like this land."
"Ohh, word, word. Strong land for all this lush animal and plant life. But haven't humans lived here before?"
"I think they did...long time ago."
"Got forced out...maybe fear of the big-ass volcano right below this water...lack of essentials, perhaps."
"Nothing ma'ok about that..." The dancer slowly ceases and looks around in some kind of wonder.
The griller looks at him and asks, "What's up, par?"
He takes a beat to answer, tilts his head at the northern island, and asks, "So why the hell they name this place Maug? Doesn't look anything like Guam."
The griller looks in the same direction for a second and responds, "Maybe that's why, because it's the opposite of Guam, nai." Looks back at his friend. "Guam backwards. Maug."
The wonderer makes subtle nods of agreement and turns to the griller waving a finger in the air. "Nice philosophical thinking. You're right, par. Tserry."
Before he can get back to the reggae rhythm, he glares up, maybe to look at the flag, or maybe to catch a glimpse of the sky, but instead catches my presence. "Whoaa, check it out!"
They look up. The girl says, "What a dope bird!" They snap out of the riff and stand staring. I observe them observing me. She continues, "Solid...I like its pink forehead and rainbow belly. And greeen all around! Bright light green, with a hint of grey, no? Is that bird from around here?" She has slick brown hair shaved on the sides. Her shirt printed with a valiant phoenix, her shorts designed with a mesmerizing purple plaid.
The griller says, "Ahhh, that's a totot!"
The wonderer wearing a shirt with thick white text that says "STELLAR SOUL" asks, "How you know that, par?"
"He's from the Marianas...like us.
"No, shit...rasta-colored Mariana bird."
"Endangered rasta Mariana bird."
He shakes his head in deep disappointment and sighs in subtle sorrow. "Brown tree snake. How unfortunate."
"Misfortunes upon misfortunes."
A moment of silence for the fallen, then the stellar soul switches gears. "Well, we gotta take care of our kind. Break him off some meat, par."
Par says, "He doesn't eat meat, Rick. He eats fruit."
"Ahhhh. Coolio. I got red berries." Rick goes to a side compartment, takes out a blue bag and pulls out a smaller clear bag.
Thick and dark-red juice oozes from the plastic. He puts a generous serving aside for me on the front ridge of the boat.
As he licks his fingers and backs away, I glide down to eat. Good stuff! Sweet with sour hints.
Phoenix the girl says, "Cool deal, he's into ‘em. Good call, Ricky."
"You know it, Maury baby." Rick starts to walk closer to me.
Par warns, "Don't get too close."
"It's cool. I won't try to catch him. Good vibes only."
I watch Rick move closer. Sensing no foul play, I continue eating the berries. He sits right by me and observes. The others look delightfully stunned, raised eyebrows and smiles.
Although I communicated with one and feel a bit more at ease with mankind, I'm not sure if I'm ready for this type of contact.
I stiffen my stance. Rick slowly digs into his pocket and takes out a baggy of thick-grated brown stuff.
He opens the bag.
Par shouts, "Don't give him that! It is not part of his diet!"
Rick says defensively, "It's fine! It won't kill him."
"You don't know what it will do to him, bro, the brown sugar is--"
"Parrr lighten up."
Bold new heights. He opens his hand to me, offering a morsel of the snack in dispute.
I am still in stiff mode, but Rick remains patient with a smile. I look at him carefully, then look at the companions, and...feeling good about everything, I decide to carpe diem this joint.
I hop a step closer, and eat half of what is offered.
Coconut! Delicious! A sweeter rendition untasted before. I quickly snatch up the rest.
"Look! He loves it!"
Maury the phoenix girl cheers and swigs her beer. Par nods, impressed, putting a lid over the grill.
Rick hastily pulls out more, but suddenly...
Geothermic activity ensues.
Smoke spews from the inner edges of the jagged islands.
I fly back to the flag. A hiss of underwater fissure bubbles up a subtle smell of rotten eggs.
The Guamanians get to work, retrieving anchor, quickly sailing away from the center. Not frantic, but not calm. Alert.
They head towards the southern opening.
Sensing safety, the fabulous three drink to the newfound ambience, gesturing their beer towards me.
Rick says, "To you, Rasta bird!"
Par says, "Rasta!"
Maury stretches her arms and spins in astonishment and glee. "Our Rastaaaa!"
I flap my wings in place as they cheer and skank, giving them a slow courteous bow, getting them deeper into the hype.
I fly off with what I think I feel is the warmest of vibes: three galactic human beings sharing grace for me to make it safely to the next fated place.
3 ☤ Asuncion
As the full Moon guides my flight through the night, I reflect. Shoko-advice fully accepted. Lesson learned. What a delight, seeing and feeling those experiences. Staying awhile and finding beauty. Absorbing the given aura. Living...
✭SENECA: LIVE AMONG MEN AS IF GOD BEHELD YOU; SPEAK TO GOD AS IF MEN WERE LISTENING.
After flying a long 25 miles southeast from Maug, I arrive at Asuncion, the next island of the Marianas. It's lit enough to get an overview of the land. Volcanic mountain, similar to Farallon de Pajaros, but three times taller. A green 3,000-foot upside-down ice-cream cone, so silent and still in the night, as the ripples reflected from the moon dance about.
Divine balance, I cherish thee.
I swing around, above the land, getting a bird's-eye view.
The land is close to a perfect circle.
Unlike Maug, it's believed that Asuncion never had human inhabitants. There is simply no proper platform for any long-term human history. A jungle-pyramid sitting on the ocean. Your usual volcano. Rocky shore on the west, smoother edges on the east. Steep slopes covered with palm trees all the way to the highest point of the summit.
I descend with slower flaps, land on the top, and begin meditation. It doesn't work. Am I doing it wrong?
Hmm? Is that me or my friend? I look up, and only the somber blue moon is in view. Shoko isn't around. But if I try again, perhaps the clouds will rush to me...so I do...and I do...and again and again.
Tried as I might from minutes to hours, with not an ounce of luck.
The sky's crystal ball vanishes.
Light-beams dash from the east, shimmering with the fluidity of the sea.
After attempting the same steps, and even from a taller peak than Pajaros, I fail to connect with Shoko.
Oh, well, guess I'll reflect on my own. The rays have formed into pure sunshine every where, except from within. The night flight and deep thought have drained all reserves.
I hop into a slight crevice big enough to shade me entirely. Moments of mindless memory, and I drift...
Death...death is screaming silently in my ear. I fear the worst, or the best of the worst, which would be the worst of the worst? But wouldn't that be the best?
Forever blurred by the clouds of grey, and of dismay.
Never wanting to fall far in doubt, but always afraid to stay. I'll never do as they say, until the day I physically have to end my ways...
"Krawww! Krawww!" I wake to piercing shrieks. A nuance of different energy. From the crevice, I look out towards the light. Three figures are flying towards the volcanic edge.
Their chirp is a Filipino dialect. An eagle, owl, and hornbill: the oddest set of beings.
"Tsether, tsether. Weauok weauok weauok. Fufufufufufuuu."
"Krayok, krayok." "Kakakakakakakaaak."
Definitely hailing from the Philippines. They're in search of a particular island in the Marianas, but not this one. Very close, though.
One of them describes the island, which sounds exactly like Agrigan, the next one south.
It possesses the tallest mountain above sea-level in the Marianas. Actually, not just the Marianas, but in all of Micronesia.
A small human population lived at the foot of it.
I wonder what they're looking for...
Before they reveal that, my excitement grows and I hop into the daylight, chirping, "Frey, frey, freyyy. Tsuwaww. Peekpeekpeekpeek."
I told them I know where that island is.
They appear aloof, staring at me, half-surprised at my unknown presence, with the other half of surprise in my ability of speaking their dialect.
The Philippine eagle steps forward, the leader I'd say, introducing himself as Zeo. He's the biggest of the three, over a yard long and maybe 20 pounds. His greyish-blue eyes study mine, wondering with God knows what type of emotion...or developing motive...
Perhaps I should've held back. "Hoohooooo...hoo, hoo, hoohoo," chirps Taiya, the spotted-owl. Cute little black beak. She glides down from the highest peak, closer to me. We're almost the same size. The orange feathers around her big beautiful black eyes emit a welcoming charm.
Taiya continues to exert friendliness, saying that they are on adventure.
Just as I!
The Rufous hornbill, almost as big as Zeo, looks more skeptical, as he whispers some chirp into the eagle's ear.
Zeo's white griffin chest puffs up like a lion's mane. The crest-feathers on his head rises as he turns down whatever the hornbill was saying. "Kwaw, kwaw, kwaw, kwawuuu."
Zeo's black beak and face show some recognition of me, as it's brown wings flap in what seems like satisfaction. Majestic and grand. He welcomes me to his group.
Rato, the hornbill, seems to be warming over. His bright blue eyes shine like the sea. Blood-red bill with what some may suppose looks like a horn on top, but to me, more like a plank. An extension of the bill that ends at the back of his head. Black face, black wings, black abdomen. Sunny-yellow neck. He beckons his long white tail at me and asks which way to the promised land.
I begin my flight towards the direction, but Taiya the owl expresses fatigue, asking me to wait a while.
So then we discuss our origins. They are from different areas of the Philippines. Rato is from Samar. As he was flying south, he met Zeo in a jungle outside of Davao city. The two birds sparked chirp and quickly realized their mutual desire for adventure. From there they flew west with plans to explore Malaysia, until the owl Taiya caught their attention in Zamboanga, a southwest tip of the PI. She already came from seeing all of Malaysia, and chirped them into going east instead. But why? They never say.
Instead, we move on from discussion and ask me to lead the way to Agrigan. After rummaging through the trees below the peak for food and water, we head in the south, southeast direction.
4 ☤ Agrihan
I lead the way, with all three behind at equidistance. Zeo diagonally above me, Taiya to my lower back left, and Rato my lower back right. Four different birds forming an arrow-tip. Unprecedentation all up in this.
I pace my flight. This distance is one of the bigger island gaps in the Mariana chain. But then, I fly higher and the birds follow in sync to uphold our vessel.
I descend slightly.
Even as I glide, they do, too. I generate faster flaps only for a moment, and they match the speed. To reassure our united entity, I whisk, zip, and zoom in all directions.
They manage maintaining the unison with such ease.
Feeling like a leader, thoughts rush to me as fast as the soothing wind to my face. My mind exceeds my reality, pondering upon the type of escapades we can partake in in the near future. It's the first time I truly feel like I want to be a part of something. Animals of my nature that I can soar with.
Given the cloudless day, Agrigan comes quickly into view.
Zeo surpasses me from above. His new lead breaks our form for the first time. The others go behind me, creating a single-file flight, directly towards the volcano.
I break the file, flying above the land for my customary bird's-eye view.
Not so much a circle like the previous land, and not a cup-shape like Pajaros, but instead an oval, grenade-like shape. Zig-zaggy edges make it a distorted looking grenade. Over 11 square miles. Gentle slopes on the southern shores, steep slopes and deep gorges throughout the rest. Jagged, steep coast, with an exception of the beach on the southwest side, where a boat can dock off.
I remember some random history of this volcano when I was being educated by Saipan's grade schools. If I recall correctly, it last erupted about a century ago. After all the madness, people came to repopulate the place.
It was all fine and dandy until there was an eruption warning 20 years ago, so they evacuated...
The lava blast never happened.
And now that I think about it, I can recall deeper history I overheard back in Saipan.
During the sailing era, about 500 years ago, a one Mr. Roberton supposedly buried gold here. It was treasure he stole from somewhere in South America. He ended up killing most of his crew so that he didn't have to share the wealth.
After Spaniards caught wind of Roberton's hidden treasure, they captured him elsewhere, took him back here, and forced him to show the gold.
He never did, so they killed him, and it's documented they never found the treasure.
All this greed for "precious" stone. Lives lost, nothing gained.
All allegedly, of course.
Who knows if there was even a treasure to begin with.
Documentation skews on the ink, and rephrases through the mouth over the time it apparently occurred.
I can believe such a story, though. Watching all these humans believe and do appalling things. Nonsense things. Things that seem to only pass their time until they get old and die.
Circus act after circus act.
Many things for no true reason.
The mind...it boggles...
I realize I've been soaring above the highest point of Micronesia for some time, so I dip down.
One big elliptical-shaped stratovolcano over 3,000 feet from the sea-top, and over 13,000 from the ocean bottom.
I get closer, blue-grey clouds lingering right behind.
After landing at the tip of the mountain in the middle of the ocean, the atmosphere turns completely cloudy.
I follow the heat in the fluff.
Taiya and Rato are perched on the volcano edge, looking down into the main gorge. Zeo entered the abyss: a void atop Earth. Mystery, doubt, and misery come to mind.
But, we peer into the hole and our collective energy shifts to merriment and conquest as Zeo dashes out of the darkness and into our blurred view.
"Swerrrrp! Swerrrp!" "Tsuya-tsuya-tsuyaaaahhhh!"
The eagle lands on a flat boulder and we follow. He attempts to croon, but chokes and spits out a moist glob of plant and vine the size of a baseball. He loses balance and falls on his right wing, coughing and tearing. I can taste the moisture from his golden eyes.
This is why they're here.
This brown and green ball of plant-matter.
"What on Earth is this?" I ask.
"The spirit vine." Taiya chirps.
Spirit vine? Taiya says that a blue toucan from Bali told her about it. She made it her mission to find it after the blue bird described its effects. Zeo and Rato were convinced to follow.
An outside source that offers revelation? I kept my suspicions on the rise while the others seem fully convinced.
Perhaps they believe it ignites what is within.
Rato screams, "This is the root to my divine! The answer to my purpose! Ohh, dear Universe, show me my way!" He whisks past Taiya and me, and chomps a huge load. The hornbill's beak is much larger than any of ours.
Zeo regains control of himself and follows.
Taiya stays with me until she feels that I am ready to join her.
Her patience succeeds.
I follow the owl to eat what remains of the spirit vine.
It's pungent greenery...very bitter, sludgy in the middle. A determined after-taste staying on my tongue longer than usual, quickly drying it. Perhaps the same effect as when humans drink merlot. Maybe more, maybe less.
We sit at the top of the island in a circle.
I feel my mind slowly alter.
Our motions becoming surreal.
This place takes on a ritualistic feel.
I scratch my back toes into the rock.
Clouds form right where we stand.
Waves below crash sensually on the shore.
A rendezvous of two elements of Earth embracing in the name of God.
Zeo stands on his talons and stretches his legendary wings. I watch the eagle stay in place, then disappear, as he leaves his physical body to soar with the love above.
We all watch...in awe of his pristine energy.
"Kryahhhhhhhhh!" Zeo enlarges a hundred times over, filling the cloud entirely. Taiya comes closer to me, rubbing her beak through my feathers, radiating a beautiful heart.
Neon lines, neither here nor there, appear to dance from my eyes to hers.
A seductive gaze with super electric effect.
She chirps, "Keep spreading the love, and life will be as beautiful as you make it to be." She wants my love, and it feels so right to love her...but--
"Nyakkkkk! Nyakkkkk!" Zeo flies in superfast circles above. He creates a tornado and plunges in the bottomless darkness for the second time.
My mind shifts.
I look at Taiya and tell her our love is too taboo.
She pleads and cries for me to open my heart to her. The most beloved owl in this life of mine.
She brings all desire to the core of my soul.
Rato croaks, "Hyakk! Hyakk!" He vomits plant-goo residue and chirps, "Now I know! I know where it is I am from! It took me so long...for I must return! The purest of I...where my universe holds real value! My energy of pure light! My God, my father...my SUN!"
Rato darts opposite of Zeo, beaming and flapping with all his might towards Sun.
Bird be gone...forever gone...
I continue to stare above until Taiya's trance of blood-red love seeps deep within.
Amid this hysteria, the volcano speaks to me. "Look within you. Find what you really need in yourself..." It shines brighter than Sun, blinding and binding me for a moment too long.
Taiya asks I hold her in my feathers.
Zeo dashes back out of this new light and into the sky. He takes the cloud with him, lightning striking from invisible Moon.
The cloud steadies as he chirps, "I've never once felt regret for anything I've done. Living my life for myself, and not others. Is it I who am wrong, or is there justice from God to live the way I live?"
Zeo the cloud continues, but I turn my attention back to Taiya. A fruit dove and a spotted owl sitting in a tree. Strange and colorful on the inside and out. "Keep me deeper than your feathers...closest to your heart." She seems so scared to face the world right now. Purring fiercely for protection. A baby's big black eyes with songs of gloss when revealed. I've never felt so true together with someone. Is it this that makes us feel so real?
✭AGATHON: EVERYONE BECOMES A POET WHOM LOVE TOUCHES.
I can't care how the world looks at us...I want to love her. If this isn't right, then I may never know what is. The odds of us meeting...being completely alike, and yet so different...from different parts of the world with a universe so grand.
Yet, we're here...in the same place...together. That's not a miracle. Miracles are too magical. I'll call it fate.
"Krinaaaaaaaaack!" Zeo bullets out of the blue-grey matter and into the psychotropic green, lower through the jungle, and beyond our sight. Taiya shivers further, pieces of feather falling off. Her tempo increases until I massage her back with my beak. Every tiny bite bringing the anxiety down. I almost feel at peace with our--
Bang! A gunshot towards the direction Zeo went.
Reality sets in...the spirit vine loses its grip with the sudden sense of urgency.
I break our bond to see what's happening.
Taiya refutes. "You can't leave! Please...you can't take back a blessing..."
I tell her this isn't right. An owl and a fruit dove aren't meant to be together in such a forbidden room.
I dart through the jungles of Agrihan. Layers of dense forestry dominated by sword grass. Thin and tall blades of needle-like fibers latching onto my feathers.
I glide further down, towards the lower slopes housed with breadfruit and coconut palm. Heated smoke seeps from a steam vent in the ground.
"Heh heh hehhhhh!" A burly laughter ahead. I look up and fly atop a papaya tree.
Within the deep ravines are a couple degenerate-looking humans. The bastards have caged Zeo. "That rock-salt really got him off his rocker, heh hehhhh!"
They repeat their foolish, maniacal laughter.
A husky man and skinny man, both with stained clothing. Dirty beards and backyard tattoos. I caught a glimpse of a few villagers at the foot of the mountain, but these outlaws must be unaffiliated.
The thinner one says with a crackly voice, "It'll make for some good eagle burgers." He sounds like a witch, or a long-term cracky.
They mount the cage onto a chopped log. The chubby one rumbles, "Goddamn right. I'm famished."
"Famished?" Skinny crackles. "Slow down there, Fat Boy Fancy, heeheeheeheehee!"
Zeo shakes viciously from the terrible mix of psychedelics and fire power.
His once valiant chest-feathers look withered in pity.
Fat Boy Fancy gives the raspy guy a red beetlenut, then puts another in his mouth. "It's good pugua, che'lu, let's enjoy it in the hot springs." They saunter downhill, climb a boulder, and jump into bubbling water.
I fly swiftly to the cage and find good luck in the form of an unlocked padlock.
I peck at it, practicing my ninja in the process.
Zeo regains consciousness, and makes a call to the heavens. "Repepepepepep! Repepepepepepep! I want to be freeeee!"
"What the hell is going on?!" The men look over the boulder and see me.
Bewildered by my presence, they spit red juice on the big rock and struggle to get over the big rock, red saliva slowly trickling down.
Still some time to buy, I hastily repeat my pecks as Zeo shakes the entire cage.
The entrapment falls off the log and the cage-door swings open.
Skinny grabs his weapon and blasts it at the cage. We fly off, dodging the blows.
"D'ahhhh! My eye!" I land on the papaya tree and look back. The fat man is rolling around the ground, holding his face. Salt shrapnel ricocheted and smacked him dead in the kisser.
Let's call that bitch karma.
Zeo continues to fly up the summit. I follow through the sword grass path.
We get to the top and land next to the high abyss.
Zeo breathes heavily and collapses.
Taiya comes and chirps, "NO!" We hold his head up, blood leaking from his chest.
The eagle's heart over-pumps as he chirps, "I know enough to not be afraid of my time. I'm happy I've lived a life as divine. And now...to the next. My new life after this death."
Taiya sobs. Tears from her big beautiful black eyes. She brings her head down to his, and nestles her beak in his feathers.
Zeo closes his eyes for the last time.
The sorrowful owl continues to cry as we feel his majestic soul go.
An ever-gentle sleep.
Life MUST go on...
✭PETRONIUS ARBITER: ONE GOOD TURN DESERVES ANOTHER.
The owl brings herself back up and looks at me with her impactful eyes.
No chirp needed.
We silently do what needs to be done.
Drag Zeo to the dark opening.
After a few thoughts to ourselves, we push him off the edge, into the abyss.
Blood-stained feathers from a noble eagle...all which remains...
I turn to look at her.
Guilt seeping to the bottom where Zeo's corpse now lays.
She chirps, "I...I'm sorry..."
I tell her, "Don't be...just be."
No chirp needed to know that this is the end for us. She has fear to overcome. I have more life to learn. Our roads in the sky bend in opposite directions.
I bow to this beautiful being, shedding one tear for the joy gone awry, and move on to my next destination.
5 ☤ Pagan
My flight feels numb for the first time in my life.
Freedom vanishes in this bounty of air.
I'll won't dare to explore that place again.
Like a million thrills from a hyper-sensory dream. Thrills that can't be chilled with souls like those.
An inferno sucked my oxygen dry.
Bliss dares not exist at this deep end.
Not willing to buy that gimmick again.
An illusion of happiness...masked into something looking exquisite.
Not for me.
I don't need to know all that there is.
I mean, I want to know, but I don't think I have to take that approach again to really know.
Because is things like that really making you know?
Can't answer that.
I'll just follow what feels right.
But joy has a reputation to not last so long.
Is that what sex and drugs are made of?
At the top of the Marianas, I felt fine on this newly-lit path. Meeting Shoko somehow brightened things brighter...with stuff like billion-watt bulbs, ultra-violets, strobes, gammas.
So blinding I won't attempt to guess what will come next.
Won't challenge or control it, or it might take me down.
Rather, I'll try to observe, reflect and learn, and not dwell nor dumbify...
For the sake of what comes next.
I suppress the mourning inside by singing a euphoric duet with therapeutic Sea.
"Seeep, seeep, seeep, seeep, kuakuakuakuakuakuaahhhhh! Kuakuakuakuakuakua, seeep, seeep, seeep, seeeeeeehhhhhp!"
This lasts all the way until Pagan, the fourth largest of the Marianas archipelago, and perhaps the most beautiful.
It's shaped something like a wild guitar.
Not the usual acoustic, but maybe a punk-rock type of joint, those artsy ones that chill in the woodwork.
Two stratovolcanoes connect by a narrow strip of land.
The northern one is the guitar body, and the southern smaller volcano is the headstock. Smoke spews from the soundhole.
I fly to a lake, west of the soundhole, situating myself on a corroded Japanese World War II Long-Range Bomber. A museum of warfare history right here in broad daylight.
The lake holds brackish water, where the fresh and salt mingle.
Surrounding the water are sugarcane and coconuts, growing lusciously in the beauty.
Kingfishers fly around, snatching the grasshoppers.
Snails and caterpillars crawl on the mossy metal.
I sense the scent of pineapple from behind.
Black butterflies with neon-purple-circled wings sit on the fruit, sipping the sweet juice while the other butterflies find their fill with the flower nectar.
I look towards the southern volcano and see bats and bright-red birds flying around, on their own hunt.
Beloved biological diversity. That Ogasawara swag. A prized piece of nature. Yet, some humans wanted to use this as a landfill?
Luckily, the more sensible ones opposed against such a foolish idea. Pagan shall be safe for now...
Church bells? Here on this secluded island?
I elevate myself to the top of a valiant royal palm tree.
My...a bit more north of the island, a small village.
Local inhabitants head inside the white building for what seems to be mass.
I decide to observe the religious meeting, but then a submarine emerges from the waters far off the west coast. I think I felt its intrusion before revealing itself.
I fly to the submarine antenna instead.
As I get there, the periscope in front moves left and right, surveying the Pagan land. The top churns and opens, out coming two men in the chamber.
They shut the valve and stand directly below.
High-ranked military officials in uniform.
Completely straight figures, like grey nails nailed only at the tip.
They switch tempo by shaking hands and laughing obnoxiously...
A circus act to my surprise. People acting their real selves when others aren't around.
The guy on the left has a huge smile while looking through the biggest binoculars I've ever seen. The device has an earthy camouflage pattern longer than his face, aimed towards where I just was. His ears flap like an elephant.
Big-nosed dude on the right takes off his captain cap, revealing a bald-top that he wipes with a tiny towel. "Well, there it is, Johnson. Pagan island, the 'Crown Jewel' of the Marianas."
Johnson takes a moment to look through the device, slowly panning his neck left and right to see the land. He says, "Please tell me, Harris...why, in this side of the Pacific, do they call it the 'Crown Jewel'?"
"The reason isn't clear enough?" He puts his cap cap back on as his equally-nauseating-associate hands him the magnified glass. He avoids hitting his big nose with the device and says, "We are kings of these here waters! Not the Spanish, the Japanese, the Germans...us! As kings, we choose what we want with this land."
"Of course, of course..." Johnson twiddles his thumbs wildly, flapping his ears even more, "...but what of these damn squatters, Harris?!"
Harris locks his gaze at the northern volcano...below the summit, where the village lies, headed by the noble white building. "Looks like the squatters are praying to their God right now."
"Pcsheh! They better pray...pray that they can survive living like the bunch of primitive parasites that they are..."
Harris brings down the binoculars, "Easy there, Hoss! That's harsh...and I like it!" He snorts and whips out a shiny silver flask from his chest pocket, raising it above his parrot nose. "Let us cheers to the truth!"
"And the inevitable!" Johnson takes out a matching flask and points it to the island. "You will be ours! All ours!"
They take a few gulps of the liquid.
Johnson brings it down and exhales, "d'ahhhhhh."
Harris takes a breath and greedily goes for another gulp, this time choking in his gluttony.
"Easy there, cowboy noodles!"
"Aghhhhhhh! Ka, ka, kaaaah! Hrhmmmm...I'm fine, I'm fine...just went down the wrong tube. Whoo!"
Harris recollects himself and says, "Fine, fine, we will try to be patient until we get the go-ahead."
Johnson sneers again, "Or until the little people move on and shut up."
The winds wind down.
An air of heavy silence.
The bald man looks beyond the sky and says, "They will never just move on and shut up. They will keep crying out shit after shit. We just have to keep laying down the law on 'em. With a bit of money, we can get some in on the plan...but dammit, those others...goddamit, I wish I could just..." He pounds and rubs his fists aggressively.
Johnson readjusts his stance, and through his grinding teeth, says, "One of these days, Harris. One of these days..."
They both start twiddling thumbs.
Straight up Twiddledee and Twiddledumb.
Harris snickers, "As soon as goddamn possible...but for now, we play the waiting game, and end the little people's fun in other ways."
Harris continues slowly, "It will be just fine...'cause I can already know the final plan." He points to the bigger volcano. "Once the squats are out, we establish the artillery right behind Mount Pagan. Chop down all those detestable trees and set the shooters up."
He points a bit right to the narrow strip between the mountains.
"Over there, under the water, we drill a hole through Earth for the amphibious division."
He points all the way to his right to the smaller volcano. "And there..." He laughs under his breath. "...the grenade range."
"You don't worry about an eruption?"
Harris waves his hand in the air, dismissing the idea. "Pish posh, laddy. Doesn't matter. Our scientists are on the same page. If we have to deal with it, we will deal with it. But first thing is first..."
Johnson shrugs and says, "Alrightio, Harris. Onward, as they say!"
They raise their right pointers in the air. A beat of defiant glory...then immediate silence. Fingers slowly go back to their sides, as the illusive awkwardness sinks into their brains.
They look forward, not knowing what to do, or how to break funk.
Finally, Johnson looks to Harris. "You, uh...ready to go?"
Harris jabbers and moves in haste. "Yes, indeed, let's skeddadle." He reopens the valve. Johnson enters first and goes down.
As Harris puts his foot on the ladder, I turn and raise my tail in hopes of hitting them with my doodoo.
He closes the chamber before it hits.
Missed the mark.
I fly towards the church, passing a handful of concrete housings and a dozen huts. Overlooking this quaint mini-village, the venerable house of God. I look through a window on the right side. Roosters crow and generators roar in the background, allowing fans to cool this small community.
The preacher is finishing the gospel of the day. "And so, brothers and sisters, James has stated that the prayer must be made with faith, and no trace of doubt, because a person who has doubts is like the waves thrown up in the sea by the buffeting of the wind. So, now, what he is saying my people is that there will be an ebb and flow of one's state if you have doubt in our Lord, and you cannot ground yourself on this planet with such thoughts and ways. Hu nisisita i mañe'lu-hu siha para u ma komprende na guaha Yu'os ya i malago'-ña ha' na ta fan aguaiya, ya maskeseha guaha chinatsaga, guaha lokkue' rason, ya i hinengge'-mu nu guiya siempre u na' tunas i hinanåo-mu."
I don't know what he said, but the people have taken the Chamorro part to heart. Mothers shift in their seats, water coming to their eyes, wiping it away with a handkerchief in hand while holding their children in the other hand.
Fathers hold a strong jaw and sturdy gaze at the thought leader. Body and soul like a chief of this land's younger years. Guiding their loved ones to safety, finding their way in this world of predatorial efforts.
One can only strive and wish to have their people live, love, and enjoy what the simple blessings of the land already offers.
"Let us pray..."
I fly away from the village. To the narrow strip of land where the sands on the shores stay black.
Wind pushes the water to my feet. A cool breeze mixed in Sun's wonder offers enough for me to feel the sacredness...understanding the 'little' people's resistance, seeing why they wish to maintain what remains of its divine.
Although I am not Catholic, I do understand the importance of it...to allow people the strength in moving on, and most importantly, in doing what is right.
Just as long as people stop getting twisted interpretations.
30 or more years ago, one of these volcanoes went off...blasting 60,000 feet into the sky, and through unknown fortune, propelling away from the village.
Is that what luck is made of?
One can easily say it was pure chance that it flew away from making harm...but others will say otherwise.
There's no way to argue in this reality who is right. But for those with faith...and those without...the answer is clear who would feel secure in what really happened, and in life overall.
So long as they keep their faith.
I'm tired of throwing questionable words around.
Let me up my knowledge before I can speak so free.
Whatever the case, something brought these people back, to continue living before Pagan was fated to be a dump.
The true Crown that turns into trash.
Sounds like a potential tragedy.
Call it faith if one will, but if it holds the fight against making this a playground of warfare, then let the faith be.
Particular humans will do whatever to live at ease. They be coming up with new great ideas: the plan that attempts to get them out of their former great idea. Fresh new ways to vandalize Earth. Spending most the energy to bury the actuality. People that seem to enjoy getting away with the murder of mother nature.
God is sure to be proud.
✭SENECA: BELIEVE ME, THAT WAS A HAPPY AGE, BEFORE THE DAYS OF ARCHITECTS, BEFORE THE DAYS OF BUILDERS.
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