the call of the loon

by tobias crabtree

(or, how to have 783 friends and still feel alone)

i remember hearing a common loon for the first time; i had traveled to montana after i left the service. i was in a hurry to get lonely. i didn’t want someone checking on me or telling me when to be where and how to be dressed when i got there. i was in my old 70 jeep, my last haircut for years was in my rearview mirror. i was pretty determined that i wouldn’t say “no, sir” ever again, even if someone deserved a “sir”,  i had used up my quota for the rest of my live-long days. i remember the loon because, even though i hadn’t heard one before, it’s call came out of a marsh and i felt myself falling into another past. do you know what i mean? i felt like i knew that sad call from some older life. a nostalgia that might have been passed down through the genes of my ancestors. that call went through my ears and filtered down into my deeper regions, down in the gut where the blood runs darker. too far fetched for ya? well, think about it like this, have you ever taken a child out to a wild place where the star sprent universe is roaring down? when the stars are so bright that you can almost hear them? i have. i have carried babies into that light, under those stars in all their unaltered glory and i have listened to the babies as they catch their breath and point.  from itty-bittys to toddlers to youngsters, i have seen them look with open mouths and gasping breaths at the universe that holds them, that wrought them, and i see it as a kind of call from long ago. from the primordial swirlings that boiled us out and conjured our gods, there is a song. and sometimes, when we turn off our radios (remember radios?) and we hit the off button on our i-everythings, we tune into the harmonies. we hear the loon for the first time and it reminds our heart; like a baby, that sees the stars, and the stars shine into the baby’s eyes and the baby’s eyes shine back to the stars. connection, man. oh yes, it’s so damn good.

in this sense, from a ramblers point of view, i have this opinion. oh, i know what you’re thinking, “another opinion, yet another opinion, as if there aren’t enough of those!” so take it as only my opinion. not a wise man’s opinion, not that of a genius…only mine. it is this, we are loosing our connection, folks.

example: go onto a popular social media site. (yep, i’m picking on facebook. don’t get all mad, i have an account or i wouldn’t know what i’m talking about here) now, it doesn’t matter how you use it. it’s a tool for many things and a lot of those things are valuable due to world-wide access. in other words, it’s public. and yet i see huge numbers of folks working out some kind of personal problem in front of all their friends (sometimes thousands! i mean, really? thousands of “friends”?). it’s like having a relationship problem and then inviting hundreds of people over, most of whom you know casually at best, and having them listen in as you talk about it. no number of “likes” can fix our need to talk to one another with faces and ears and tears and touch. i’ve seen the saddest things said on these public outbursts, and none of them will get better that way. most of these outbursts are because the raging person needs a real friend to give them a real hug and some real, truthful advice.  it’s a blight on our intelligence. it’s a sign of terrible loneliness for real interaction. if true human communication is proper nutrition, we are living on twinkies and chips.

i ain’t above it. i’m a part of this messy thing. i have taken my fair share of selfies but i’m not in denial about it. it’s a bit of a joke, right? i can’t help but see that look on my face in all my selfies, that look that says, “oh look at you looking at yourself again, nothing better to do than take pictures of yourself?” same look is in the mirror when i’m just looking at myself. “hey there, tobias, what are ya looking for? less age? maybe less hair on your ears?” so, i’m not trying to be someone that ain’t  guilty. i guess i’m trying to say it so we can maybe fix some of our messiness. because, yes, we’re a mess right now. how about we start by adjusting how we use what we have. social media can be so powerful when used to get the word out on change. it’s a grand template. but don’t forget about flesh and blood. the discomfort of frustration is a part of human life. we are better when we use our bodies and stand front and center, face to face. screens are like walls we keep between one another.

being present is pretty cool. talking and laughing is so sweet. sorrows can be shared with true friends. misunderstandings are meant for us to handle as compassionate, intelligent beings; human to human. to skip that is to short change those traits. pandering support from the masses is not the way to fix a problem with a friend, or hell, even an enemy. buck up and talk it out.

i am practicing what i am saying. i fail all the time. holding my ma in my arms is a trillion times better than texting her the words “i love you”, but i do them both.  we are smart and wonderful animals but we are nasty little addicts, ain’t we?  yeah, we are.

a long, long way away from this place, outside of the glowing letters and numbers of my lovely computer, there is a place out under the sky where two loons call back and forth. and their cries are from the inside and they are heard by hills and the trees and the moose on the edge of the marsh. these things are real and they have been real even when we did not hear them. somehow, someway, we gotta find our way back to loving this kind of thing. it’s the only way we will care enough to save ourselves. otherwise, we will break to pieces.

this is my attempt at communication through words on a screen. it’s not my favorite way. if you were here, with me, we’d take a ride on some bikes down to the sea where we could talk and hear the seagulls. and that would be cool.