..in all of Aud none could compare with the gentleness of her spirit or the calmness of her gaze.
Across the width and breadth of Aud's hot Savannah summers, kindness and understanding flowed
in her wake.
But Aud is a land of twists and turns, exotic and strange, where fate like a
silent panther stalks the night, seeking the unwary. And all alike must heed
the play of life and death, lest the cry in the dark be their own.
Now in this land of joy and of sorrow there lived an ostrich. He was a proud
bird. A runner and a scout for the flock, searching the land for jungle
beasts with predacious inclinations, warning his fellows of danger, and
planning the strategies of defense. He was a respected member of the flock,
with ambitions of advancement and hopes for the prettiest of wives and the
loudest of children.
One morning, the ostrich arose from a bed of ferns and willows to a sound
different from all others. Toward the rising light, before the sun's red
glow, a swoop of birds parlayed with the dawn. Pink and lovely, calling to
one another over the mists, the flamingos were gliding to their feeding
grounds in the distant marsh lands. The fires of the sun lit their wings as
they danced and soared, heedless of the groundstuck-watcher before them.
And for that watcher a single thought occurred: Though he could run like the
wind, he could not fly.
For an ostrich, the skies were forever closed, and the sun a distant and
unattainable light to which he could never aspire.
Tears streamed from his proud face as he watched the flamingos depart.
Such freedom of movement!
To soar with one's fellows, high above the Savannah, sailing high and free
through air and light and sky.
To be forever above the dangers of the ground, high above fears of sudden,
ugly death. "But for me", he thought, "such joyful crimson soaring is
forever barred". And for the first time in his life the ostrich felt
incomplete and alone.
Now this is not the usual story about a dream and a quest with ultimate
redemption at the end. Not at all.
The ostrich did not suddenly leave his responsibilities to the flock to seek
out a way by which he too could soar with the flamingos of the dawn. Nor did
he struggle through pain and tears, overcoming tremendous obstacles until at
long last, after much travail and difficulty, he found the wondrous purple
flamingo who answered his life's longings. No. This story is not like that
The ostrich may have been proud, but he was proud with justification - he
was no fool. He knew that many might die if he abrogated his
responsibilities as scout to the flock. Though his heart ached with the pain
of denied flight, he knew he must remain. As he watched the flamingos vanish
toward the marshes that red red morning, he realized this: If he pursued the
mystery of flight he would probably fail, for his body, while superb for
racing across the grasslands was simply not designed for soaring. He knew
that his place in Aud was guiding the flock away from danger, and helping
his sisters and his brothers defend the little ones.
Yet he wondered: "Why am I saddened by seeing such beauty? I cannot fly. Why
do I need more?"
So the ostrich resolved that each day he would set aside one hour to try in
any way he could to find the answer to his question.
At first he sought the wisdom and advice of his friends. But although they
were kind and listened carefully to his questions, they had no answers for
Next he sought out the very old, the elders of the flock. Perhaps their
vast experience will provide an answer, he thought.
But they only urged him to forget such foolishness, and attend to his duties
to the flock.
In desperation, he decided to seek the wisdom of the great killers of the
grasslands - the tigers. For he had seen the care and cunning of their kind.
Surely such cunning also bred wisdom.
The feline hunters were quick and fearsome. Death at their paws was swift
and sure. But as a scout, he knew their ways, and knew that after a kill
they were less likely to attack at his approach. He waited many weeks, until
finally an opportunity presented itself: he came upon a tiger satiated after
the fresh kill of a young zebra foal. As he carefully approached the circle
of the kill, the tiger watched with benign indifference.
"Greetings great one," he called to the tiger.
"And to you, O groundling bird."
"I have come to seek the wisdom of your council. Will you hear my question?"
"A strange request from one such as you," grunted the tiger. "But the sun is
warm, and my belly full. Ask away, and I shall give what council I may."
"Thank you, great one. My question is this. I have watched the freedom of
the flamingos as they fill the sky with their passing. And I too have wished
to soar the heavens. Yet I am a runner and though swift, am not capable of
flight. This is the way of the world, and I accept it. Yet what I crave to
understand is this: Why do I yet yearn for flight and the freedom it brings?
Why do I wish more than my lot?"
The tiger growled at this, and rose up on his haunches. He lunged at the
ostrich roaring power and death at the terrified bird. The ostrich froze in
the power of that roar, shivering before the glare of those immense eyes of
fire. The ostrich stood unmoving, seeing his death before him.
Then the tiger yawned, licked its lips, and settled back down with a
somewhat amused expression on his golden face. After a few moments, the
"Where are your questions now, foolish bird? That is my answer to you. Now
Away ran the ostrich, running, running; desperate to get away. In his ears
rang the sound of the tiger's laughter. Yet even as he ran in terror and
mortification, he wondered what the tiger had meant.
The years passed. The ostrich now had a pretty bride and a flurry of young.
He no longer scouted, but had become a leader of the flock, renowned for his
fairness and his wisdom.
He had pursued his inner question: Why did he want more? Why did he wish to
But now there was a difference.
Years of pondering had helped him to see the great gift that the tiger had
given. For he had found that in that instant of surprise and terror, for a
brief moment his mind had quieted. His questions had, in that moment of
In the silence of the tiger's roar the need for answers had vanished.
The years came and went; the flock grew and the ostrich aged. Yet unlike his
fellows he found his mind clear, unencumbered and free. He had become a
venerated elder. His wife had become a shaman and healer of the flock, and
some of his children had themselves become scouts. In his old age he had
found a freedom for which he had never sought. His mind was clear and sharp,
his thoughts free.
One bright morning as he stood looking toward the rising sun, the flamingos
appeared again in their glory, as they had so long ago. But this time he
walked slowly toward them, until he stood below as they sailed red and
golden in the light above him.
"I have seen you before." said a soft voice behind him.
"Yes Mistress, and I have seen you many times over the years, flying with
your flock. I have heard of your grace and your goodness; that you spread
joy and wisdom with your passage."
"Yet you have never sought me out?"
"No. Thanks to the kindness of my teacher - a venerable tiger - so many
years ago. Through him I learned how to explore within myself. I have found
my heart's desire within my own being."
"And what was it you found, gentle ostrich?"
"Only myself, Mistress.". He paused a moment in thought. "I knew that I
could not fly, as I yearned to do, nor could I relinquish my
responsibilities to the flock. But I was unhappy. So there was only one
place left for me to turn, and that was within myself. The tiger showed me
how to look. He showed me that whatever emotion or feeling was dominant in
my mind temporarily suppressed all other needs or thoughts."
"So you knew that even the strongest yearning, your need to fly, was
"Yes, and therefore it couldn't have been as vital as I had supposed. In my
terror at the tiger's roar, all my deepest yearnings temporarily vanished...
so I understood that they were passing things only. Instead I wanted
something permanent and lasting."
"How did you come to realize that the only thing that lasts is the quiet of
"I simply stopped chasing after that which was transitory. Then to my wonder
and joy, I found that all that was left was my sense of being. My own
"But not a consciousness of something...?"
"No, the simple fact of consciousness itself."
"Ah. Come with me now gentle ostrich. Together we will follow the light."
Then as the sun rose red and golden on the land of Aud, the purple flamingo
and the ostrich flew together over the Savannah toward the dawn.