Once upon a time, there was a lion who was different from the others of the pride. He’d climb trees and imagine himself held by the arms of giants who once walked the earth. He would lie on the grass and try to decipher the elements of each cloud. He’d walk through his days reading the changing hours like musical notes etched across the sheet of the vast savannah. The lion knew he was different, but wasn’t sure why or how.
One early morning, a little brown bird that was different from the others alighted on a branch above the lion, raised her throat to the warm breezes and began to sing. The lion lifted his head to find the source of such a beautiful melody. Then, he slowly rested back down and began to dream.
In his dream, the lion became the trees’ uppermost leaves, opaque persian-blue mist and even dust floating above life on the savannah. He became intervals of rain, the sound of cicadas and even the softest feathers of the little brown bird. When he awoke, the little brown bird was gone, but the lion understood how he was different and why he never knew before.
From then on, the lion looked forward to his soul traveling on her song. His appreciation showed little brown bird what gift also made her different. She could entice others to dream.
On those mornings when the little brown bird didn’t come, the lion grew impatient. As you know, lions are bossy and used to getting their way. He rolled restlessly, disconcerted that he could not control when the little bird came or went or how long she stayed, he could not find her once she left and he never knew if she heard him calling her to come see him. He had no idea if he would even see her again. His eyes would glaze as he tried to reproduce the lilt and tremors of the little bird’s notes, but they escaped him.
Too preoccupied and unsettled to sleep or eat, the lion contemplated his attachment to the little brown bird and decided that the next time she sang to him, he would refuse to listen. Noticing that her song had lost its call, the pesky creature would realize that she was no match for a lion who had made up his mind.
Seeing the little bird approach, the lion busied himself licking his paws, roaring and shaking his mane, but could not ignore her as he had planned. Knowing how temperamental lions are, she simply sat on a tree further away, ruffled her feathers as if she had not noticed, looked in his eyes and sang. Despite himself, he fell back in languid rest entwined with the harmonies of her song. He could feel each pore and hair on his body, all of the muscles in his limbs and even the draw of his lungs. He felt he could touch the little bird’s voice like light touches air.
The little bird’s last visit weighed on the lion when he woke this very morning. He could not remember when last she came and wished he had not growled at her to go away. The other lions would not understand his dreams, though no proud lion should miss a bothersome little bird.
Part of the lion wished to never see the little brown bird again. He could easily return to dreamless slumber, to simpler inner peace, to drifting about, alone except for the company of darting lizards. Part of the lion wanted only to hear the little bird’s song once more and to know that she came solely to serenade his quiet reverie. The lion ached as his heart opened and closed and the morning gathered a grey and humid hush.
This is where our story leaves him, wondering what he really sought of the little bird and not knowing quite what a lion unlike any other should do.