I’m no Jimmy Buffet. I already know there’s no woman to blame for my troubles, if I’m honest about it, though sometimes I blame her anyway. I’ve tried a rum drink in the Caribbean and couldn’t tolerate it. I’m not a fan of sand in places where it grinds off skin, and I won’t wear flip flops long enough to blow one out on a pop top.
With that established, on March 24 of 2012 I was lying on the deck of a catamaran floating in the Caribbean at the second longest barrier reef in the world. The sky was light blue, washed out and paled by the brightness of the sun, unobstructed by the two or three clouds. The type of day where you forget to apply sunscreen because it’s not hot – just sunny.
The rest of my group were floating around face down, looking at fishies and coral and getting odd shaped sunburns on their backs. Back on shore, we left the sound of a club blaring obnoxious music out onto the beach: “F me F me F me pleeze, I get joy you get diseeze.” That’s what I heard anyway. Couldn’t get away fast enough.
But now the boat was calmly hypnotizing me with the cycles of the waves, and all I could hear was the sound of the water on the boat. And the birds. That’s when I noticed that there are three categories of birds, much like people: Singers, Chirpers, and Squawkers.
The Singers add something positive to their environment. Notes of encouragement, pleasant tones, melodic messages. Some singers are so positive that they lack credibility, and those too often take center stage, but there are other singers – rare, almost extinct – that are gifted with the ability to sing truth. These rare breeds can sing truth even when it is unpleasant and do it in a way that the melody softens the blow of the reality. You hardly ever see this rare breed because they are usually caged up and “protected” for someone’s own private enjoyment.
The Chirpers are a dime a dozen. Like finches on your lawn. Sometimes they blend in with the surroundings to the point we don’t even realize they are present. They go about their daily routine, chatting here and there, pollinating flowers and re-seeding the flora and picking up groceries and worms for the family. They are everywhere and they are underappreciated. They should be appreciated because they provide sustenance; they keep the ecosystem and economy going for the Singers to be worshiped. Sadly.
The Squawkers need to be heard, although they don’t say much of value and they certainly don’t say it in a way that makes an audience want to listen. They are extremely repetitive and usually louder than necessary. They contribute to the ecology by pointing out and sometimes getting rid of problems, but they do it in such a manner as to often clear the room of those who need to hear the message before they can squawk out the point.
As I was relaxing on the catamaran in the Caribbean, I considered what category of bird I could be. Based on reading my own writing years later, I surmise that I am a Chirper who wastes valuable time wishing I was that rare breed of Singer. Sometimes I convince myself that I am, but no one recognizes it. I watch dressed-up but often talentless Singers on podiums, singing whatever people want to hear just so they can stay on the podium, and I think I could do better, but then I have common-finch-like work to do instead.
I guess some people are the Margaritas (singers), some are the Hard Whisky (squawkers), and some are the tap water (chirpers) that makes the ice which brings out the blossom and helps everything else mix.
I’m the tap water in Margaritaville.