Dancing with pigeons

I have been at the “beach” and those that follow my blog know that my accommodations are somewhat primitive.  There is no electricity, running water, internet, TV and using a cell phone is influenced by the wind and weather.  It is a place that after 3 or 4 days you are about to lose it and it is time to return to civilization…where I am now.

It was cloudy and about to rain,  I was digging through a stack of books looking for something to read.  Most of the books are murder mysteries and at this point, if I read one more James Patterson book, I might become a serial killer.  Even worse, a Democrat.  I swear there must be a study out there on the political affiliation of serial killers.  I would put money on  Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler, being a Democrat.

I keep on digging for a book and come across a hardbound book with 244 pages and a title that just suits me.  I look at the author’s credits and find a book that was on the New York Times best seller list and start reading the book in hand.

It is a book of anecdotes, stories of people, places, love, life and pigeons.  The book is by Robert Fulghum and titled Uh- Oh.  Someone must have lent it to me years ago and if they’re reading this now, must be saying…ah, so that’s who has my book.  I apologize for keeping it for so long and please identify yourself before I lend it to someone else…cuz it’s a great read.

I recently became a grandfather, her name is Mae Carney O’Sullivan and one of Fulghum’s stories really hit home.


Please allow me to share two excerpts with you, the stories are my favorite in the book but do yourself a favor read the book.

A couple of days ago someone was talking about some problems they were confronting and decided that these problems were just inconveniences not real problems and therefore not worth getting stressed out.  I jumped on board and by coincidence, Fulghum wrote about the same as I read his book a day later.

Survivor of Auschwitz…lissen, Fulchum, lissen me, lissen me.  You know   what’s wrong with you…it’s not this job.” “So what’s wrong with me?” “Fulchum, you think you know everything, but you don’t know the difference between an inconvenience and a problem.   “If you break your neck, if you have nothing to eat, if your house is on fire – then you got a problem.  Everything else is inconvenience.  Life is inconvenient.  Life is lumpy. Learn to separate the inconveniences from the real problems.  You will live longer.  And not annoy people like me so much.  Good night.”

the other excerpt

...Grandfather and grandchild go to the zoo.  First time.  And we see the lions, and tigers and elephants and kangaroos and bears and gorillas and all the rest…..she rode in the stroller and I pushed.  The next time we do this, I’m going to ride and she’s is going to push.

For all of my “Oh, Sarah, look at the whatever.”  Sarah was most impressed with the pigeons that hung around.  What she liked about the pigeons was that she could almost touch them but not quite.  No matter how carefully, cautiously, quietly, she approached, the pigeons always managed to move just one small step further out of reach.  The space between her and the pigeons moved in concert with her.  She could come so near and yet never completely close the distance.  “What would you do with one if your caught it, Sarah?”  She didn’t know. Processing was not in the plan, actually. Reaching for the pigeons was all that was important to her. Not catching, but pursuing, mattered.

Riding home, Sarah fell asleep in her car seat beside me.  I sat in the car and looked for a long time at her face.  Who is this child?  I wondered.  I want to know her.  Now that I am older and wiser and have the time and patience I did not have as a father, I will approach her as she approaches the pigeons – carefully, cautiously, quietly, with perseverance.  And wonder, as she does, how one can be so close and so forever far at the same time.  She is not “mine” and never will be.  Two people think of her as “their” daughter.  But Sarah only belongs to herself.  There will always be a moving space between us – an untraversable distance to be treated with respect.  Sarah doesn’t know what she would do if she actually caught a pigeon.  And I don’t know what I’d do if I ever caught Sarah.  To love something and to possess it are not the same thing.

Talking to her father the next day, I inquired of Sarah’s report on our excursion.  “She’s been talking a lot about pigeons…are you sure you guys went to the zoo?”

I hope that Mae and I will dance with the pigeons some day.

pigeons girl

This blog is the longest since I started doing one.  If you are still reading … thank you…and I will end it with…

…last week, someone asked me if my stories were authentic, especially the one about Whitey Bulger, it is true and for the most part so are the rest (except Herman the pig in “the bone setter”).  Fulghum’s answer to the same question continues to be “yes and no I’m not sure sometimes myself.”

for more on Robert Fulgham click on the following:


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