Written By Laura Simms, Award-Winning Storyteller
Two large pigeons compressed themselves beneath an air conditioner at the window. Their cooing amplified in my kitchen. They built no nest. They were like the old man and the old woman in a fairytale who have no child. However, after a rainstorm, a perfect translucent oval white egg remained balanced at the edge of the window sill; a delicately defiant appearance. The two birds flew off to the shelves and sills of the old building across the way. They did not return. It was obvious no baby bird would come from the egg. It remained: a mysterious jewel, a full moon with an unreadable image; an otherworldly presence, an underwater crystal. It was a closed book. It was as if washed up from an ancient ruin or .a message whose faded words floated out from a bottle. Much of the time I feel like that wrinkled moist paper-like oval, an egg with faded words. I want to use my voice to save the world. But I am too often quiet. Yet, In this solitude, a habit of being and waiting for signs, a trust of emptiness (not bareness or absence) I have come to realign myself with mystery more often than a solution. It is an alchemical response.
The egg sat precariously. Until it disappeared after another rainstorm. It reminded me of the small key found beside a locked trunk in the last Grimm’s story told. A boy found the key. He opened the trunk. It was empty. I found this folktale following elaborate wonder stories with endless episodes mysteriously refreshing; finding a Buddhist scroll without words pointing towards the essential nature of everything. Even, an explanation for the egg. I was not surprised when the egg was gone. But I missed the sight of something wild and out of place. Daily I search for signs of wilderness. I even looked for the egg. What I saw was the face of a child whose hand was trustingly placed in the hand of another. The outrageous first burst of flowering trees in Brooklyn. Tears came to my eyes when I saw an antique desk left on the sidewalk. It was made of strong thick wood. There was a handwritten note taped to the top describing its’ history – if someone wanted to take it home. The note, read, “This was a present from my mother when I was a teenager. The top drawer does not open.”
We need gifts, sharing, mystery, reminders, acts of kindness, memories of who we are capable of being. In these deeply disturbing times where blatant cruelty, once muted, has leaped out in full regalia from an underground basement where monsters were feeding on stale ideas and growing stronger. Now, they dance in suits and ties on the street creating havoc with abandon. Singing songs about not being their brothers or sisters keepers delights them.
Beneath the frenzy of my busyness, I savor the sight of birds and spider webs, even humorous cockroaches. They scramble away when the lights come on in the bathroom as someone naked suddenly seen. It is these moments that restore my joy. The old stories give voice to the mute girl. She has to search for what was lost or stolen, including her voice. Having watched the only one she trusted turned into a bird, she left her comfortable place to find him or her. Barefoot or wearing iron shoes she walked into forbidden forests and caverns. She confronted death and grief. This girl, who could not speak, found her way, it was impossible, to the place where all directions meet at the crossroads. There night and day are one. It is a place called ‘that egg.” If she paid attention, she could uncover what she was seeking. In one telling, seeking a prince that turned into a pigeon, she found a house of birds, nests and small treasures. She managed to retrieve the bird, the egg, and her voice.
The delicacy of the luminous egg remains tattoed in my eyes. I dream that it rolled off the ledge, without breaking, into the garden of disarray between buildings. It sank beneath overgrown weeds to the ever-present place where the mute girl now vocal could birth from nothing a new life, a new world, a restored sense of being of the wild. I can almost see her and hear her beneath the cry of the birds in that tattered place as she begins to sing again.
We need to learn to read the signs. We need to dream outside our usual way of thinking to not lose heart – to trust the magic of the world itself. To imagine beyond fantasy with unbearable love.
Laura Simms is an award-winning performer, writer, and educator advocating storytelling as compassionate action for personal and community transformation. She performs worldwide combining ancient myth and true life story for adult and family audiences. She is the Artistic Director of the Hans Christian Andersen Storytelling Center in NY and the founder of The Center for Engaged Storytelling (new). Learn more about Laura here.