Thursday, October 30, 2008


I have been trying all night to decide what to write about today that doesn't involve politics or classes. Then, at about 5:52 or 5:53am, I was walking to my car to move to another building at work. I thought I heard a wild whisper coming from above me, "Whoo-Whoo-Whoooo-Whoooo-Whoooo."

I looked up, determined not to get an owl pellet (owl puke embedded with tiny bones of mostly digested smaller animals) or an owl turd to land on my head. I couldn't see an owl at all, and I hadn't heard one on our campus before, despite the fact that there are all kinds of yummy things for owls to eat like baby racoons, groundhogs, squirrels and (my favorite), skunks- yum yum.

After craning my neck for a minute or two, I decided that I must be hearing things. Even though it was chilly out, it is nowhere near the cold of winter, when owls can often be heard trying to entice mates to come and get a little nookie.

Just as I convinced myself that I must have just heard a vehicle, or maybe an early morning dove (even though the voice and intervals weren't quite right), I heard a louder, more insistant, "look at me" sound of:

"Whoo-Whoo-Whoooo-Whoooo-Whoooo!" It was an exact, but louder and (I possibly imagine) a more insistant replica of two short whoos and three slightly longer, whoooos.

I looked again, still, no visual. It made me wish I had a flashlight in my pocket (along with the 6 assorted colors of highlighters, one red pen, two black pens, one sharpie, a little bottle of hand sanitizer, a letter from UM Flint, and car key-wait, no, that was in my hand by then). I still somehow doubt that I could have gotten a visual on my vocal friend.

So often, owls seem to pride themselves on secrecy, unless, of course, they are flying openly flaunting themselves at dusk as happened one time on a friend's farm. It actually swooped the car, twice, then landed by the side of the lane we were driving on. Wow. My heart almost stopped with the beauty and the audacity of THAT magnificent, huge raptor.

The one this morning may have been big and bold like that one, or it may be a little sawhet owl with a big voice. I guess I should look it up. Does anyone know whoo whoo whoooo whoooo whooooo my new friend might be?

Moments like my owl encounters bring me joy and curiosity, excitement and gratitude all at once. I am always surprised when I feel multiple feelings at once. I found out recently that although researchers say that when we think we are multi-tasking, we really aren't thinking about multiple things at once, we are really paying attention to one thing at a time and quickly changing our focus and re-accessing memory about thing after thing, so we think it's simultaneous. I've been really paying attention to my thoughts and thought processes lately, since finding that out. I think the researchers may be right.

Even though I may not be smart enough to think of more than one thing at a time in my multi-tasking fantasy life, I seem to be able to "multi-feel" without noticing any pause or split between my curiosity, gratitude and joy. I have even, once, experienced deep-gut-wrenching grief and ecstatic laughter, joy and appreciation all together. (Crying and laughing at the same time, makes it almost impossible to breathe, but was an amazing cathartic moment in my life.)

Why do I have the ability to feel more than one thing at a time, but not to think of more than one thing at a time? Has anyone done any multi-feeling studies?