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Japan Diary

Playing Chicken with a Crow

By March 25, 2020May 9th, 2020No Comments
Playing Chicken With A Crow

I love the title of this, but not sure how I can make it into something, so I will write and see what takes shape.

It’s early morning, 6-ish, on my bike riding to a meeting point for a group bike ride, followed by a post ride coffee at the local coffee hangout. Our group is the U.N of cycling, long time residents of Japan whose love of cycling brings together people from all walks of life and countries including Canada, France, United States, Germany and Japan among others.

During these trying times in Japan we try and live a normal active life, with minor inconveniences. Cycling is one of those luxuries we are able to enjoy given that the length of the bike allows for a preset social distancing. Upon meeting fist or elbow bumping is the preferred greeting.

My journey to meeting the international contingency of cyclists continues as I ride down a narrow street in suburban Tokyo. Flanked by a rice field on the right, and a pack of post-war 1950s Japanese wood style homes that would flatten in seconds in an earthquake above 5.0, on the left, I’m about halfway there when suddenly in the distance I spot a crow. Nothing out of the ordinary, crows are in abundance in Japan, right up there with pigeons in New York City.

I notice the crow has flown from its perch, an electrical wire high above paralleling the road and heading in my direction. Still a few hundred feet away, no concern. Closing the distance, 200, 150, I see that this jet black crow has the wing span of an adult eagle, “Rather large for a country that prides itself on smallness,” I think out loud. I am still not concerned. Then less than 100 feet, concern wins out. And like a Jedi Tie Fighter maneuvering the small alley-like maze of the Death Star, the crow is now level and flying straight at his target – ME!

It’s do or die.

Do I hold my ground and assume the crow will course correct pulling up at the last second? Or to avoid a collision with one of Mother Nature’s own Fighters, do I swerve into the rice field?

I held my ground, as did the crow, who was flying level with my head only to slightly pull up at the last second tapping my helmet with its talons. (Or is it crow’s feet?) Had I not been wearing the helmet I surely would have a bald spot and even better story to tell.

After our skirmish, I started thinking about how this relates to what is going on worldwide. Early on in this crisis, corona was careening headlong into the direction of humanity with no conscious motivation to swerve. Like Poe’s Raven, had we listened closely we could have heard the utterance “Nevermore.” Now face-to-face with darkness and the great equalizer, collectively we grieve and will grieve the loss of life, and life we have known will never more be the same.

We could have swerved. Unfortunately, we are seeing the result of our decisions. Humanity is not superior as much as it is a part of nature. This is where the disconnect begins for people in many parts of the world. Technology and stuff have taken over. We have lost touch with the spirit that is nature. And once lost, we care less and less over time about what we have done and continue to do the planet. Thinking superior and invulnerable, it took a zoonotic disease so minuscule it takes a microscope to see for us to realize our vulnerability.

It’s a wake up call to the reality that we can no longer life the kind of life that has left us disconnected from nature. It’s time to change to a life of sustainability for the planet and all its inhabitants, or Mother Nature will continue to dare us to take her head on.

Do we play chicken and risk mass extinction?

To salvage what’s left of her world, I can hear her warning, “Nevermore. Nevermore. Nevermore.

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