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The guillemot (a European bird much like Bernsie, herself) hurls itself off a precipice before it is fully fledged, not as a test of will or wings, but as an instinctual following act just a few steps behind its mother.  And the fledgling guillemot doesn’t stick the landing.  It doesn’t even fly.  The guillemot feels weightless in plummet just moments before it crashes to the rocky beach below.  But even as it crash-lands in the grit, the guillemot is not unsteady.  It dauntlessly, haplessly perhaps, picks itself up and continues its relentless waddle to the water.

What mother leads its young into a hopeless crash dive off a cliff that doesn’t end at the sand below, but continues to drive forward into the great blue deep?

Each morning I wake up hoping to have grown in my flying feathers, and though I have what appears to be feathers growing in, I still can’t fly!

I have my own nest.  I even have a flock of young creatures (not of my own species or procreative efforts, of course) to look after — think Jean Piaget flock of ducks.  And, yet, I continue to feel unfledged.   I can’t save a dime.  Alright that isn’t exactly fair, I have managed to save a few dimes with my save the change account that rounds off my debit purchases and puts the extra pocket change into my savings account.  But it doesn’t ever seem to amount to much.  Because all I ever do is move my money around to delay its expenditure until it is appropriately allocated.  Then, by month’s end, I’ve nothing more than a few spare dimes to save.  I don’t know much about credit, but what I do know is that it is very difficult to build and very easy to obliterate.  I’ve bombed my credit off the map!  And it isn’t as fun as you might think it sounds.  I only have one credit card and has a very modest credit line.  Trouble is, my credit card has been my emergency safe and I’ve had more emergencies in my young adulthood than I had ever planned on.  So even though my actual debt is fairly minimal, I’ve only one credit line and it’s close to max.  I can’t seem to pay it down because my interest rate is horribly astronomically bound (we’re talking black hole big).  And the credit company won’t offer much to help.  So I slowly pay pay pay pay pay what little I can here and there throughout the month.  It’ll work.  It just takes time.  A slow drip drip drip of time into a tiny bucket of dimes.  All the while, I spend my time practicing to be a fledged adult.  I try to keep a responsibly clean and organized apartment, and I try to get my oil changes regularly, and I try to forecast a future for myself at my job.  If I squint hard enough at the horizon, I can envision a doable future of flight.  I can see it!  But how the hell do I get there, do I just keep hurling myself off the precipice hoping to either fly or make it to the bottom in enough pieces to walk myself to the water?

It isn’t a new theme.  It isn’t a new question.

You see, like the guillemot, women are born with sea legs and have to learn to walk on the land of men.


Maya Deren, “At Land” (part 1 shown), 1944.

As Maya Deren wrote of feminism in her films, I think that the strength of men is their great sense of immediacy.  They are a “now” creature.  And a woman has strength to wait.  ‘Cause she’s had to wait.  She has to wait 9 months of the concept of a child.  Time is built into her body in the sense of becomingness.  And she sees everything in terms of it being in the stage of becoming.  She raises a child knowing not what it is at any moment but seeing always the person that it will become.  Her whole life from her very beginning it’s built into her a sense of becoming.  Now in any time form, this is a very important sense.  I think that my films, putting as much stress as they do, upon the constant metamorphosis.  One image is always becoming another.”

Time is built into my body in a sense of becomingness.  But what am I to become?  What is to become of me?

That is a question that can only be answered in the air drift en plummette.  That can only be secondarily confirmed by the sea.  If I can make it to swim in the kelp, even if I become enmeshed and tangled, I’ll know, like the young guillemot, I have made it at least so far.

Photo Credits: “A guillemot swimming over the kelp beds” by Jonathan Wills

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