When I watched the DVD of The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill, I thought this is a cute movie. But then I reached the part about Tupelo and the movie reached out and grabbed me.
The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill – is a movie about Mark Bittner, who was living on Telegraph Hill in San Francisco, and his relationship with a flock of parrots – Cherry-headed Conures. Judy Irving, a wild life photographer looking to do a different sort of movie, came across Mark and chronicled a few months in Mark’s life with the parrots.
Tupelo was the first bird Mark took care of. She became so sick she couldn’t move or even feed herself. Mark took her in and fed her formula with a syringe. She hated it at first but came to like it – it was feeding time. Mark would carry her outside to look at flowers which she really emjoyed – especially the fuschias.
One night as Mark was reading he felt an intense “vibe” – a feeling of gratitude – coming from her and he picked her up and held her in the bed while he was reading.. After about 30 minutes, wishing to sleep, he put down his book and also put Tupelo on the floor – fearful of leaving her in bed in case in his sleep he crushed her. Immediately he got another strong sensation – this time ot what he interpreted as regret or resignation – clearly coming from Tupelo. Next morning she was dead next to the heater.
Now it was Mark’s turn for regret – he wished he had held her until the end – he couldn’t talk to anyone for three days. “How do you get so attached to an animal” he questions but them answers his own question. “In a sense they are purer than we are… We play a lot of games that animals don’t play… She depended on me and she loved me”. Many people think this is anthropmorphism – projecting numan emotions onto an animal But Mark is adamant that those feelings came from her – he wasn’t looking for them, he was reading his book.
Before Tupelo, whenever people would ask about the birds, Mark would downplay it – charcterize it as a hobby in fear of being labelled as eccentric. After Tupelo died, he confessed his love for the parrots.
The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill – about connectedness.
Tupelo was the one of a series of events that led him to the understanding that all life is connected. He tells the story of Suzuki Roshi, founder of the San Fancisco Zen Center, who on seeing a huge waterfall in Yosemite, saw it as a metaphor for life. At the top of the fall, the water is one river. As it starts to fall, it breaks into billions of individual drops. Then at the bottom, all becomes one again. The distance between the top of the cliff and the bottom is our life.
As droplets we think we are discrete individuals (“clumps” is the word Abraham uses). At the bottom, we discover once again, that we are part of the stream. This is very like the analogy used by Lester Levenson, who describes us as a comb. We see ourselves as individuals, as the teeth, but in reality we are also the spine.
The Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill is a simple but moving and entertaining documentary. It speaks about the vibrational communication we all have but often don’t recognize. And it talks about our conectedness. I highly recommend it.
Wild Parrots Of Telegraph Hill – Pictures supplied by Mark Bittner.
Footnote: The “Accident”
There are no “accidents” … but here’s mine – it leads to a personal relationship with Tupelo.
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