We went to the zoo one afternoon while we were visiting my grandma, giving her a chance to rest and giving my kids a chance to blow off steam. And while there were many wonderful things to see, I enjoyed the peacocks most of all. I’ve seen a few peacocks in my life, but have rarely seen them displaying their tail feathers. On this particular day, however, both the peacocks I saw were on full display, fans open wide, and turning slowly so everybody could see. The first peacock was the kind I usually think of, brilliant shades of blue, green and gold. The second peacock, which we found near the concession area, was pure white. I thought he was beautiful, stunning in the way that things are when your emotions are on overdrive. His lack of color stood out against everything else, and he struck me as other-worldly, forever tied to what was probably my last visit with my grandma.
I decided to take a few pictures to show her, and the peacock was kind enough to oblige me. But during our little photo shoot, I overheard the conversation of a family walking past, and now it, too, is forever joined with that extraordinary weekend:
“Hey, Mom, can we take a picture of that peacock?”
Dad: “Because if you’ve seen one peacock, you’ve seen them all.”
Now, I’ve given my kids plenty of short, ridiculous answers like that, so I don’t hold it against the dad. There’s no telling what preceded that conversation. But at the same time it struck me as an amazingly sad thing to say. Hopefully it was just a momentary, thoughtless answer. Because I can’t imagine going through life with that attitude, shut off from the wonder.
Earlier in the day, Gram and I had been talking about books, among other things. She has spent much of the last year reading. “You know,” she said, “you go out onto the street and there are all these people, and they all have stories. It’s amazing.”
You can be ready to leave this world and still see the wonder in it. I hope I don’t rush past too many peacocks.