The assignment for my wordpress class is to take a quote from Twitter and riff on it. The quote I chose is “Intelligence without ambition is a bird without wings” (which I just found out was said by Salvador Dali). While this might be true, I have some ambivalence about what ambition means and implies. And I think that the world suffers from an overabundance of the wrong kind of ambition. Anyway, the bones of the quote are good, and I have chosen to paraphrase it to suit my blog.
One of the first sparks in our minds is curiosity. It may have killed to proverbial cat, but the cat died happy. Babies’ curiosity probably starts before ever leaving the womb. Mothers can feel their babies kick and poke, and explore before their maturity gives them entrance to the bigger world. Every lesson their learn is guided by curiosity. Unfortunately, it is the task of parents to bind that natural instinct to explore and enquire and guide it in safe directions.
So we come into out own with the competing impulses of natural curiosity and mama’s limitations. While it may be necessary to clip an infant’s wings for her own safety, too many of us go ahead and keeping getting regular trims.
My blog title “A Bird with Wings” was inspired by Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernières. Bernières‘ book’s title is taken from a saying by one of the characters, Iskander the Potter, “Man is a bird without wings, and a bird is a man without sorrows.”(wikipedia)
Traveling involves both following our curiosity and escaping, as much as possible, our sorrows. In my life, a good deal of my sorrows have been caused by staying in one place longer than I ought have. Relationships, jobs, places. In the end, as they so often say, you cannot escape yourself. But traveling has allowed me to have a more informed perspective of my “self”, and also to have a better perspective of my sorrows. Maybe we can’t fly away from our sorrows, but we can rise above our self-pity.
The way we live our lives may differ, but we all have the same impulse- to alleviate pain and pursue joy. For me that has meant travel and exploration, for others (whom I often envy) it has been staying committed to persons and places. I am a bird with wings. It may not be the best way to live, but its mine.