January 28, 2023

Opening the Door for the Bluebird, and the Eagle

An open door to the bluebird house

Real art, like real living, wasn’t supposed to be that complicated. Faking it is much harder. You have to remember all the damn rules and words and stick to the script. But the script was written by someone else, not you, and they always leave out something, like the bluebird in your heart. Faking it means that the bluebird in the heart can’t get out.

Maria Popova, one of the curating gems of the Web, has a post about Charles Bukowski’s poem, The Bluebird. There’s a bluebird in the heart. Toughness, cleverness, shyness, alcoholism, and myriad of other reasons and excuses keeps the bluebird buried so no will know the real from the fake. The bluebird will be let out at night, when everyone else is asleep. The pain of keeping the bluebird locked away makes for tears but the tears are also buried deep in the heart with the bluebird.

Charles Bukowski

Mark Twain takes on Fenimore Cooper and some of his biggest literary fans in Fenimore Cooper’s Literary Offenses. According to Twain, Cooper’s biggest offense is that he’s faking it. So are the English professors from Yale and Columbia and elsewhere who are effusive in their praise of Cooper.

“He keeps near to the tune, but it is not the tune. When a person has a poor ear for words the result is a literary flatting and shaping. You perceive what he is intending to say, but you also perceive that he doesn’t say it…. A ¬†work of art? It has no invention, it has no order, system, sequence, or result… it has no thrill, no stir, no sense of reality…a poor ear for words.”

How weird that we have to struggle to find our own voice when it’s right there inside us all along. Marketers, educators, family, friends, enemies, bosses, supporters, and critics, all in their own way, knock the snot out of the bluebird.

No wonder a great artist like Ernest Hemingway escaped to northern Michigan, loving its raw and pure beauty as Mark Twain loved the Mississippi River.

Here’s a picture I received in an email this morning. The email was from a friend of a friend. Since the email has gone viral, at least in our little circle, I suppose it’s okay to show it. The picture has stirred the hearts of all the people who have seen it, fulfilling one of Mark Twain’s rules for art and writing. The picture was taken outside their kitchen window in northern Michigan. Natural beauty is much more awesome than the fake stuff.

a bald eagle in northern Michigan


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