Ten For a Bird, Not to Be Missed

by | Mar 30, 2021

Ten gulls in water. Egg Tempera painting by Daniel Ambrose

Ten for a Bird, Not to be Missed. Egg tempera.

Twenty-Two years ago today was the last day I saw my father alive. Soon after, in the early hours after midnight, he succumbed to a yearlong battle with cancer. He was 63. The age I am now.

Today I walked the beach through the sea mist in communion with his spirit.

My father was a private man and never talked about God or religion. But he drove my siblings and me to Mass on Sunday mornings.

He loved the water. It is by the water that I feel nearest to him. I can see him in the shallows with his cast net sparkling in the sun, skin-diving for lobsters in the Keys and shrimping in the river he called home. He and my grandfather took us crabbing in the spring, teaching us to gently pull the crabs in on the end of a string. Teaching us patience brings rewards.

Facetime did not exist when he was alive and I would love to ring him now, just to see his face. I would ask him what he thought of Beeple selling his artwork as an NFT for 69 million dollars.

NFT’s are non-fungible tokens, digital data in a blockchain. Beeple created his art on a computer and the buyer paid for it with Ethereum, cryptocurrency, mined and minted on virtual servers.

Beeple is Mike Winkelmann, In a podcast interview with Kara Swisher, Mike said the buyer bought virtual land with more cryptocurrency to build a virtual museum to store his virtual artwork. Got that!? I can see my dad shaking his head in bafflement. I feel the same way.

Cryptocurrency is digital currency recorded in an online ledger. Its value fluctuates constantly. Though Mr. Winkelmann accepted cryptocurrency for his digital art, he immediately converted it into cold, hard cash.

I am still trying to wrap my brain around the concept of buying virtual land to store virtual stuff. It’s true, It’s called Decentraland.

But my father is not here to ask what he believes about God or virtual worlds. During the time since his death, Americans belief in God has dropped 11% according to a carefully worded Gallup poll. Which, coincidentally is the percentage of Americans that believe in cryptocurrency enough to invest in it.

For most of my life I have observed and recorded the beautiful miracles of the natural world. And I have been a seeker and searcher of the spiritual world through sacred writings. My art is a manifestation of these journeys, and my paintings are prayers and poems of gratitude for the transient moments of beauty in the physical world. My faith rests in the Presence that created the myriad patterns and connections I witness. My physical paintings hang on actual walls and bring real joy and serenity to people that I care about.

No, my father never tried to convert anyone, but he showed me a way. While his body lies in the earth under an old pine tree, I walk the beach peering through the sea mist into the ether and trust that his spirit is with God.

Over 100 billion humans have been alive on Earth since our beginnings. Are we like blips on a digital screen? Pixels passing into the virtual ether. Perhaps in the future, we will buy digital coffins for virtual cemeteries to store our digital selves for eternity.

Is this where we want to live? In a digital universe? As for me, I will walk the actual world, inhaling every moment of a rising sun, a breaking wave, a bird singing and a baby’s laughter in celebration and joy. Life is here and now on this planet, this moment.

I trust that God will handle the ether of eternity.

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