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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

The Condor and the Coyote

A wise old condor sweeps the desert with an age old eye. Even as a distant witness, silently slicing the heat-soaked skies, it has seen far too much. Life has taken its toll. Feathers ruffled, he is perched awry, like a fallen angel upon a barren rock. The primal instinct has long gone. The critter is waiting to die.

He makes no sound. Now and again he opens his beak and swallows the dusty air. Sand glitters on the ground. The clouds are thin in the azure sky.

And then he notices the coyote.

The condor knows the shamans believe that the spirit of the coyote brings evil into the world. Always wary, ready to strike at the unwary.

Sure footed the predator approaches with a cautious sniff at the still bird, trying to smell a death that would signal an end to his ravenous hunger.

The condor does not move. Even though there are no chains keeping him tied to his resting place and against his nature, the condor waits.

He has mapped the horizon plenty of times. He has notched up the air miles of a lifetime. Now is the moment to die, he decides to himself, waiting for the fellow carnivore to seal his fate.

And yet, possibly even more unnaturally, the coyote does not make a move to kill. He stops and stares questioningly at the bird.

"Great condor? Why do you not fly away?" asks the coyote.

"Yesterday I was the hunter. Today I am the hunted. This is our way."

The coyote nods in agreement. "Yes, but why do you submit so easily?"

"Because there is no more hunt left in me."

"Do you not want to live old bird?"

The condor gives a sqwark. "Life is not to live in, it is to live out... What is life? It is the flash of a firefly in the night. It is the breath of a buffalo in the wintertime. It is the little shadow which runs across the desert grass and loses itself in the sunset."

The coyote takes another step forward, cautiously wheezing, "I hear that the meat of a cynical bird is tough. Maybe I should search for tender meat."

The condor's eyes flicker angrily. "Our beak's are even tougher. All the better to rip out rude tongues with."

The coyote hisses a laugh, his drooling tongue lolls out hungrily, "You are wrong about life. We succumb to life more easily than we do to death. It is in our nature to kill each other, but not to lay down and die."

The condor smiled and sqwarked. "Yes, but you see ultimately I will get my revenge. You kill me today, then you are killed tomorrow. It is the web of life."

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