Tonight has began owly and ends owly, but not just the same. And when I dug around for a definition of owly, I found two different definitions to match each part of tonight.
One definition comes from the authority of the Oxford Dictionary. It defines owly as someone who resembles the qualities of an owl, especially an owl’s unflappable calmness.
The other definition also appears in Oxford, but is more common as slang. That is the irritable, cranky, and irrational man…or as likely…woman.
So strange that two very different human qualities can be expressed by one aloof animal.
I know the irritable and cranky animal all too well. One that refuses contemplation and calmness. It is much easier to be seen (usually seen marching away in some opposite direction in my experience) than it is to be heard. The cranky, irritable owly doesn’t seem to have much to say. Anger is the answer.
But…thank you sweet baby Jesus…there is the other owly. Now I can’t say I have found many examples of this other owly in human form recently, but the calm soothing pleasure of owly calmness calls once again — airily, peacefully — from outside my window. It is my Screech Owl and his … or perhaps as likely … her tremolo call that completes this night so nicely.
Unlike my human owly, this owl prefers to be heard rather than seen, and softly heard at that. Just being present seems to be enough. It is a calm presence, one sure of its place out there in the world. Quietly marking its contentment with a soft call, evenly spaced in the night, the owl invites one to dream.
I see no reason why people cannot be the same. The owl acts by its nature, people act by choice. But perhaps people are too complex; perhaps they cannot choose the peace they seek. In that way people are sad creatures, prone to mistakes and loss. They are also wonderful creatures, however, with opportunities for great happiness and contentment.
So why is it then that we most often associate “owly” people with the more cranky connotations?
I’ll think about that as I let my owl call me to sleep.