This afternoon I was sitting at my desk about to begin a new section of work from the dangerously sky-high accumulation of awaiting knowledge. I was all zoned in and ready to commit the intricate web of ‘liver disease mechanisms’ to memory. It had been a laborious day of lectures and dissections, and the nauseating smell of our formalin-embalmed specimen still seemed to seep through my pores and into my nose as the tiredness compelled my head a fraction too close to my notes. “Liver disease pathology” the bold heading had stared back at me, how still and calm the words seemed in comparison to my racing, wild mind. I knew I was slightly behind on this semesters work but I guess I’d stumbled on the time-estimation aspect because here I was with less than 7 days to complete 7 weeks’ worth of work and that wasn’t even my biggest problem. You see, being a medical student is hard – at least for me, I was out of my league from the beginning with these ‘cream-ery’ of the best crops and so I was forced to learn some arguably gritty coping skills. This however, left me with a miniscule index of leisure time – which I have been working on so I can go off on tangents like these not accidentally.
Back to this afternoon – reading and simultaneously mulling over trivial unimportant concerns. I started to hear this humming noise, like a slow-building amplification of naturistic symphony and then, a sudden chirping that burst out of nowhere. I pulled my curtain back a little (in study mode I prefer to take on various Dracula/mole/bat -like characteristics) only to find the most phenomenal scene in the history of my only suburban-familiar sights. The view from my window is the top of the gigantic oak tree that sits in the centre of the shared quad in my residency’s building. The huge tree has currently morphed into a grey streaked kaleidoscope of orange and red due to the seasonal change of chilly autumn. This made it easier to identify the amazing spectacle.
Hundreds of birds, pigeons I had assumed, had come from what seemed like thin air – manifested almost – and perched themselves within every open space on that massive tree-top, I had honestly never seen such a thing before. Small groups were drifting elegantly to and from the oak to the nearby smaller ones – the quad transforming into a momentary paradise. And all the while the bustling, fresh, constant chirpery. I had decided to forget my impending work, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate anyway – and opening my curtains fully for the first time that week, I stared fervently at these magical yet, mere common creations of God and then when the deep oranges and pinks of the sunset above caught my eye, I realized I’d not seen the bright sun in a while.
One bird a pale brown and black speckled pigeon had mounted itself on a twig right outside my window and sat morbidly still. It rather intrigued me; two tiny black marbles stared at me and seemed to convey something reassuring before it turned its head. Slowly, it lifted its wings, like that of an aeroplane just before the last wheel leaves the ground. Momentarily it paused and then took off just inches from the framed glass. Just as I was admiring it’s feathered flight – the mountainous silhouette of the oak swayed and just like a roaring fire erupting from a struck match – the entire flock of birds descended the branches – a dense ashen mass, dipping down low before ascending before my eyes - a fleeting masterpiece. Skilfully and synchronously, they encircled the quad from up above - magnificently before fleeing behind the pale one.
The childlike wonder and enchantment afforded to me in those few moments allowed me to experience what I deemed true joy, something I was only vaguely familiar with. My mind cleared, the weight lifted and I was able to start again with a renewed state of being. Above all else, those marble eyes will remain in my easily accessible memory – a constant reassurance that when life overwhelms, it’s best to simply stop and take a moment to look outside..
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