The Ecology of Bliss, Entropy Magazine, July 9, 2018
“He trampled up to his room, wiping boots on the mat. He left the door ajar and spread the curtains across his windows. Light flooded in over the dusty and paper-strewn room as if for the first time in months. At his computer desk, he opened a file.
The experiment is proceeding. I can deal with the rejection. Subject is intriguing (if bubble-headed) and willing to be friends. Must remember not to call too soon and seem pushy.
Merging field notes with life had improved his anxiety; the slow, analytical assessment helped wrap his thoughts around the incomprehensible minds of others.
He cracked the window and watched snow melt on the radiator between window and desk. It was always too hot in the room. He checked his mail. There was a rejection slip. He had grown fond of these. He read the slip, its well-mannered, trite way.
He considered himself successful for 34. Three publications. Already, ready for long-term work. Out of grad school, he’d landed a job with a nonprofit that studied captive birds, birds used as pets, released in the wild. The study concluded that populations of captive birds released in the 21st century wound up stagnant. Dead as goldfish flushed from a toilet bowl. A much different story from the house sparrow and starling explosions of the 1800s.
The NGO was impressed with his work, and that his findings that only took him $4,000 in expenses. The only way to keep track of a bird in the wild had been to tag it and monitor with the owner’s permission. If the blip on radar stopped flashing that signaled a life squeezed out.
For him, nothing unrevealed was glimpsed by the study following blinks on screen. But there was a quality to birds he loved. Something about their ornate delicacy and yet wildness. Their precision for what they did. The artistry of evolution visible in the folds of their kaleidoscopic wings…”