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Sunday Morning Meditation: the Bird of Paradise

Posted By Cliff Tuttle | February 17, 2019

No. 1,615

Image: Wikipedia

Pirate pitcher Chris Archer is a rare bird.  He has a mindfulness coach who sends him messages like this Zen proverb: “The bird of paradise lands only on the hand that does not grasp.”

Archer is not likely to ever forget this maxim, nor will it stray from his mind for very long.  He tattooed it on his upper left arm, together with a drawing of an open hand and a scale. The scale, I am told, represents balance.

This is a critical time in Archer’s career.  He went through hernia surgery, which for a baseball pitcher is a singular event.  He chose the surgeon carefully and spent most of the final months of 2018 in agony, rehabilitating basic skills we take for granted. Now he is pitching in Spring Training.  Clint Hurdle announced that he will pitch the home opener on April 1.

Logically, the tattoo belongs on the left arm.  His right hand grasps the ball.

The bird of paradise refers to a large variety of birds found mostly in Indonesia and surrounding islands. It also refers to severally plants from the same region with leaves that are reminiscent of these birds.  Their common trait is bright and beautiful plumage. It may be a metaphor for happiness, which cannot be seized and held.  Instead, the bird chooses to visit you. But, the visit is temporary. So enjoy it.

I must confess that I never heard this saying before. However, I do remember the one which I believe was attributed to the philosopher Johnny Carson.  “May the bird of paradise fly up your nose.”  It was an insult and a curse, which was the title of a dumb song by Little Jimmy Dickens that was played a lot on the radio, circa 1965.(You can find it on You Tube) The singer was grossly unkind to a beggar, a laundryman and a cab driver, each of whom wished this fate upon him.  What would otherwise bring joy apparently turns out to be an imaginative and very painful way to die.

The real message has been explained thus.  Don’t seek happiness directly.  And don’t try to find it in pleasure, wealth or any of those pursuits. Do what you should be doing in this world and happiness may come.

And so, at the time of a new beginning for Chris Archer, I wish him a visit from the bird of paradise. And to you, too.



CLIFF TUTTLE has been a Pennsylvania lawyer for over 45 years and (inter alia) is a real estate litigator and legal writer. The posts in this blog are intended to provide general information about legal topics of interest to lawyers and consumers with a Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania focus. However, this information does not constitute legal advice and there is no lawyer-client relationship created when you read this blog. You are encouraged to leave comments but be aware that posted comments can be read by others. If you wish to contact me in privacy, please use the Contact Form located immediately below this message. I will reply promptly and in strict confidence.

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