General Fiction posted May 25, 2024

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Zen & The Art Of Feeding Geese

by jim vecchio

You can hear the birds from my apartment window. Their song is a song to the Creator. They are thanking God for a new day, and the glorious day it is.

At least that’s what CeCe told me. To me they’re just sounds.

We enjoyed many sunny days together. It was the nights we couldn’t stand. Correction. I couldn’t stand.

CeCe never even came to any of my concerts any more. She preferred to play the domestic, the one who warms my meals and darns my socks.

The music wouldn’t allow me to be the man she wanted me to be. As our gigs went on, even the music became listless and static. The songs were just numbers. Play Number 34. Play Number 68.

The only worthwhile part of it were the faces. The sea of feminine faces that viewed me with such love. All different. All beautiful, exotic, and approachable.

How could I be satisfied with CeCe?

When CeCe left, I tried to take a good look at myself. A long look in the mirror. I still liked what I saw.

But the look of an empty apartment, that was something different.

Some days I stretch out on my bed, glimpse through the dingy blinds, and remember when it was all new.

I’d look out the window and the sun would dance in and there truly was music in the air, my music and the special music CeCe told me about. I could smell promise in the air, feel my pathways ever rising, reaching for the brass ring of the future.

I’ve known many fellow musicians who drifted into failed lives when they stopped believing in themselves.

My failure began when I believed too much in myself.

I was also rubbing those of my group the wrong way. They didn’t talk or joke with me like they used to.

This time, stretching on my bed, the room seemed to turn grey. The walls were closing in on me.

The door seemed to tell me to get out.

I walked along the main block, into and out of the crowds of people going about their daily activities, never seeing them, just walking my way through them.

Somehow, I reached the park at the edge of town.

I found a comfortable bench and sat myself down.

Whenever a pretty girl strolled by, I wanted to jump up and shout, “Hey, gal, guess who I am?” but something zippered my mouth and rooted my legs to the ground.

Then I noticed, way in the distance, an old man throwing scraps of bread to a family of Canada geese. I sat, just watching for an hour or so till the geese departed and the man finally walked away.

Then I walked back to my apartment.

That night, in my dream, I saw the old man feeding those geese. That’s all of the dream I remember. Then I awoke.

The following day, though sunny outside, was grey and cold in my room. I went out that door once more.

This time I had a destination: the bench. I sat there just watching the old man feed the geese. There seemed to be a kind of communication among them, though the man uttered not a word. He seemed to enjoy their company. He left, never giving me a single look.

I walked along his path when the old man was far in the distance.

Just a small expanse of land by a small creek. Strange, now that the man had gone his way, and the geese theirs, I felt a twang of loneliness. One moment life had thrived here, now it was gone.

I walked by a children’s play area. All those young laughing faces and the happy and proud smiles of the adults, and I so distanced and unattached.

Where do I belong? Fit in?

I hadn’t shown up for a gig in awhile. I guess the guys have given up on me. My room seems smaller and smaller. The phone hardly rings, and when it does, it’s generally an unpleasant voice.

Grim clouds of grey overspread the night sky. It is overcast, as if the sky itself had chosen to die above me. In the distance, I could make out some faraway stars. The stars have their songs, too, CeCe had said. But they were not singing for me.

More and more, I looked forward to those hours of awakening. Only the Sun hadn’t given up on me.

People chattering, insects buzzing, traffic sounds, none of them signified to me anymore. I just knew I had to return to that park.

This time, I chose a bench directly by the old man. Again, I sat silently, watching the geese waddle over to him, each reaping a rich reward of bread and assorted tidbits.

I had been observing them for quite a spell when the man suddenly turned and spoke to me.

“Care to feed them?” he asked.

I didn’t want to look foolish, yet the thought of feeding them did not seem foolish at the moment.

I rose, and he gave me a crust of bread.

“Break it up in smaller pieces,” he said.

I broke a few crumbs and I admit, somewhat timidly tossed them in the direction of the geese.

“Watch out for Lucinda,” the man said, “She’ll bite your finger off if you’re not careful!”


“Yeah, she’s the bossy type. This other one’s Lutricia, and the male, here, he’s Ambercrombie.  And this one’s…”

“How can you tell them apart?”

“When you get to know them, they’ll tell you their names.”

What kind of weirdo did I get myself mixed up with?

After a short period, the geese adjusted to my feeding. They were hungry.

“Of course, this bread and stuff, it’s not part of their natural diet,” the man said. “Insects, roots, some grasses are just fine for them. But, they’ll gobble up this food and it won’t hurt their systems much.”
Then he added, “And they enjoy the company.”

“How can you tell?”

“You can…feel…their gratitude.”

That was the extent of our words that day. Soon we were out of food and I returned to that gloomy old room, a bit more anxious for tomorrow to arrive.

Tomorrow did arrive, and I hurried, so early and fast to claim that bench once more.

No matter, the old man had already gotten there, and he was busy feeding those geese.

“I see you’re early today,” he said. “No other commitments?”

“Well, I play a gig or two now and then. I’m lead guitarist.”

“That’s all you do?”

“It’s enough.”

I don’t know why. I felt the old man was intruding, but I also felt he had something I needed in my life.

“When the…gig…is over, what do you do?”

“That’s when the real fun begins.”

“How so?”

“Blondes, brunettes, redheads…”

“Tsk…Such a boring life!”

“Boring? It’s what every guy I know dreams of.”

“All this will surely fade. Have you ever done anything lasting…of importance…in your life?”

I thought and remained silent.

The man continued, “I heard tell of a man named David once. He played a mean harp, and wrote such beautiful words. But he also fed his sheep and commanded the armies of his people to victory.”

I felt a little irked.

“And you, why do you waste your life feeding geese?”

“Cause that’s what God told me to do.”

“And all this is important?”

“To the geese it is. Let me tell you a story. I used to be an entertainer. Did some jokes, a crazy little dance. Night after night. I had my routine down to perfection.”

“Sounds an awful lot like me and my guitar.”

“It was. Then, one day I asked myself, what am I really doing with my life? I used to think making people laugh was the greatest thing in the world. But, it’s really a very hollow thing. You say a few dumb words, some drunk in the audience laughs, and that’s your life, I told myself.”

“But it feels so good, being in that limelight, the focus of all attention…”

“You’ll find even those moments are soon fleeting. Then you realize you really have nothing. Nothing at all.”

The old man replenished his supply of food out of the bag and gently tossed a bit of graham cracker to Abercrombie.

“This is his favorite,” the old man said, “If the others aren’t careful, he’ll shake them off for it.”

“So, how did you end up here, feeding the geese, anyhow?”

“When I felt my life was emptiest, I prayed, as best as I could, for a new purpose to my life.”

“The only prayers I know are the Our Father and Hail…”

“No, this isn’t the kind of prayer you learn by memory. It’s, well, a straining, silent voice that stems from your heart.”

“And you’re telling me, then, you heard an answer?”

“Not the kind of voice we have. But a returning, silent voice.”

“And it told you to do this?”

“It reminded me that The Lord above holds precious all life. He knows the tiniest sparrow, and feeds and cares for him. He feeds all his creatures, each in a different way.”

“If this God feeds the creatures, why does he need you?”

“Man! Man thinks he’s so far above others. Really, man is just a servant. A vessel, if you will, that God can use towards His work. God told me to help him by providing food and company to the geese.”

At this point, the man handed me some bits of food and invited me to offer it to the geese.

“Wow! Will you look at Lucinda go for it!!”

“See, when you get into it, you’ll know all their names. It just comes naturally.”

I’ll never forget that day with the geese. No matter how busy, I always returned to that spot to feed them. The old man was gone.

I guess he had fulfilled his purpose.

Post Number 500
A Milestone Post


Please note: The word "zen" is not used to describe any particular religion.
Zen is a state of calm attentiveness in which one's actions are guided by intuition rather than conscious effort.
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