Maybe because I read Thomas Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos a few weeks ago, maybe because I taught Tim Flannery’s Weather-Makers around the same time. Maybe because I wanted to watch the sky, let myself go blank, having finished a long review of an old friend’s book that dredged up every emotional extremity and intellectual idiocy of the last 35 years.
I went outside with a beer–I have a balcony–to look at the blue sky, but instead of the nothing I wanted, I saw a hawk. At first I thought it was a burnt scrap of paper rising aimlessly on today’s hot wind, it was that high, and then I realized this thing had wings and was moving in a deliberate pattern, ever higher in a smaller circle.
I watched it for five minutes. Its wings never moved, but it kept flying, soaring higher and higher, until I thought it disappeared into the plump white cloud that had coasted into its tightening orbit.
This creature doesn’t need to soar, I thought, it wants to. It has consciousness or sentience. The whole world is seething with the purpose that comes with this gift.