Qigong and the Blue Jay

Qigong and the Blue Jay

I heard a thrum of wings behind me and turned to see a Western scrub jay atop the tall, wooden front gate.

“Hello, lovely,” I smiled, and continued with my Qigong practice, barefoot on the cool red bricks. For a moment he sat there, observing, possibly looking for the dogs, then flew just over my head with a quick cadence of wingbeats, so low that the wind of his passing ruffled my hair, and landed on the birdbeeder, newly relocated to the center of the front garden.

I kept on with my breath and movements for the Lung Meridian, grinning as he perched on the feeder’s post, not three feet away, and began rummaging with his glossy beak through the bird food for his preferred sunflower seeds, tossing the less desirable seeds aside and over the edge.

I know this blue-winged fellow. I’ve been feeding him for over a year and I call him Jasper, regardless that it may very well be a female. Before the English Whippets arrived to live here with me, and prior to having the bird feeder, he would come within arm’s reach at the wooden railing where I scattered the birdseed, or right to the small bistro table on the deck where I sit to write or eat lunch on sunny days. In the mornings, if breakfast wasn’t served by a reasonable hour, I would hear him outside, screeching noisily in the tree, calling to me.

Pippin, the bird and squirrel chaser

Regrettably, Pippin likes to chase away any bird that alights on the deck, even sometimes at the feeder, and this has diminished my garden visitors somewhat (except the squirrels, who are undeterred and willing to risk life and limb to gobble up the fallen seeds). Jasper is braver than the little Dark Eyed Oregon Juncos that like to visit, and he’s even bolder than Patch the Crow (named for a ruffled, whitish flaw in his breast feathers). 

Today, the dogs were in the house, and I was out front, doing my Qigong, barefoot on the earth, recovering from too much time spent on the computer. These past days, I have spent countless hours building a new website and officially launching it this morning, and despite my breaks to go outdoors for ‘earthing’, the considerable project has pushed the limits of what I can handle given my electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS).

So it felt good to once again be barefoot on the earth and doing my daily Qigong as a counterpose to the ‘virtual’, wired work. Despite that it is June, the weather here on the central California coast remains cool and cloudy with a marine layer (the infamous “June gloom”), and my exposed feet and hands felt slightly chilled.

Every day I am dreaming of summer, but still it remains elusive. August, perhaps.

Moving through the sequence of exercises for the meridians (invisible, subtle channels of magnetic energy that traditional Chinese Medicine mapped eons ago), I pushed away the distractions and noises. My crazy neighbor on the north side was out front of her house, working on one of the endless projects in her scrapyard, talking loudly to herself (arguing, apparently with her invisible guides). On the southerly side of my cottage, the neighbor’s gardener was running his noisy leaf blower, one of my least favorite modern noisemakers. Just across the street, a house is being demolished to build a new one, and I am living in a daily deconstruction zone.

My external environment seemed anything but tranquil, and my internal world rumbled with its own share of distractions. I hummed with the slight angst that I’d not yet written the SAJ post to go out early the next morning, wondering what I would write about this week. Yet rattling louder was the fact that I had sent my email campaign announcing the new Sacred Masculinity site, and I was already receiving notifications of people unsubscribing from my mailing list — apparently offended either by the project, my gayness, or some combination of both. I had anticipated there might be fallout and a drop off in readership, but I hoped for the best. Really, what did I have to lose? A few followers? Hardly the end of the world, especially if my authenticity bothered them.

As I have shared regarding my current search for a literary agent and the rejections that come along with that, with each one that has declined (or simply ignored me), I have silently said, “thank you,” realizing that they are not the right person to represent me and my work. In a way, I feel similarly regarding those who are now unsubscribing due to my new Sacred Masculinity site for gay/bi/transgender men. I would prefer to have readers who can accept that a gay man writes this column, so to some people it’s goodbye and good riddance, I guess.

In full glory

“Thank you for unsubscribing,” I said aloud, returning my focus to my breath and movements, while simultaneously appreciating the fading yellow rose nearby, the breeze swaying the lacy limbs of the Grandmother Monterey cypress above me, and the old bricks beneath my bare soles.

This moment, here and now, is nothing but the ordinary sacred, I reminded myself. And I was inhabiting it fully, noise and all, both internal and external, with bare feet on the ground as I reached for some semblance of balance and open-hearted appreciation.

And I could not help but be cheered by the company of Jasper the Jay, who was not the least bit perturbed by the morning’s fallout, nor my sweeping arm gestures for the Kidney/Bladder Meridian, but a glassy eye turned toward me, still considering my odd behavior and movements. 

“Are you the blue bird of happiness?” I asked.

Of course I am, his return look said wordlessly, I was wondering when you would finally clue in.

He/she is a beautiful bird, really, with vivid blue wings, crest and tail, and a grey underbelly and back patch, along with a grey racing stripe just over the black ‘cheeks’. When my dear friend Sara was recently here from England, where Western scrub jays are unknown, she remarked on his (or her) attractiveness as Jasper perched at the feeder. It warms my heart, this bit of connection I share with the denizens of this place, and as I’ve written elsewhere, feeding the birds and little wild ones is what any Green Man would do. 

The Sacred Masculine has nothing to do with being gay or straight. How irrelevant that is in matters of archetypes and the soul. I say that the heart of sacred masculinity rests in the appreciation of nature and wild beauty, honoring our interconnectedness, and the appropriate use of personal power while embracing empathy and compassion. And love. Surely we could say the same of the Divine Feminine. Together they represent balance and wholeness, within each of us as well as the larger story.

Gentle reader, I am wishing you the grace of balance in your day. A balance between work and play, between a wired and technological existence and a more natural, healthy and old fashioned one, between domesticity and wildness. May you find equilibrium between the aspects of yourself and life that often seem at odds. And I hope you realize that the elusive balancing point is always found in bravely following the truth of your own heart and soul.

Here’s to befriending and feeding the blue bird of happiness.