Dreamy Wings and the Philosophy of Awakening

Quan-Hoang Vuong

Hanoi, October 21, 2023

This is when Kingfisher starts daydreaming about a romantic affair with a young lady named Dreamy Wings, who lives by the village pond. It gets to the point where he feels sick if he doesn’t visit that village at least once a day. He will wait and watch from a distance until she finishes her fish-catching, and once she flutters her wings and shows her charm, only then will he return. He even ignores its hunger.

What is it about Dreamy Wings that has such a hold on Kingfisher? Why is the normally so serious and contemplative, often lost in thought, Kingfisher infatuated to the point of absurdity?

The answer is simple. They are both kingfishers, part of the same family, yet her beak is petite and elegant. Her eyes are sharp but sparkled with a hint of charm. Her delicate figure embodies the phrase “a swan’s grace,” yet she possesses incredible strength, easily lifting a three-ounce fish up to her branch. But most importantly, her ethereal attire earns her the title of “Dreamy Wings.” Her entire being is like an ethereal painting, a playful creation of nature using colors, lines, dots, strokes, and patches. One can only exclaim, “Absolutely enchanting. Is this real or an illusion?”

Today, after many days of absentmindedness, Kingfisher contemplates some verses and begins to sing:

A thousand nights, I’ve dreamed a dream so deep
For three nights now, I’ve wept in the rain

Believe it or not, the universe responds to its wishes, and Dreamy Wings flutters past his side! Alas, this is the sign! And, Kingfisher rejoices. He quickly grabs the plumpest three-ounce fish he can find and rushes after her, intending to offer it as a token of affection. (Food has a way of conveying deep messages; some scientific articles say that.)

Carrying the heavy fish, Kingfisher staggers as he follows Dreamy Wings’s lively flight. The colors shimmer faintly, with an otherworldly appearance, and Kingfisher chuckles, half-singing a tune the youngsters often use:

Hey there,
if a mortise and tenon joint
can’t put our love together...
a screw...

Then he laughs, thinking, “Here, a ‘screw’ refers to the fish within the beak, nothing else.” The laugh almost makes him drop the fish, but he manages to keep his mouth shut.

As time goes on, the dreamy flight intensifies. Dreamy Wings soars high, her youthful energy pulling her along with the wind, a streak of sunlight twisting and turning. On the other hand, Kingfisher struggles to keep up, shaking as if about to fall. Occasionally, the fish flaps, causing him to whirl around like a helicopter hit by enemy fire (but with very little smoke, you know!). But he persists; clinging close to Dreamy Wing is all he wants. Sometimes, Kingfisher mumbles, “If I could just get rid of this fish, I’d last longer.” But then he immediately scolds himself as a cowardly critter; this heavy fish is the key to fulfilling the dream. So he carries on...

As such, as Dreamy Wings continues to soar, Kingfisher follows closely, swaying and almost falling but still keeping pace. Every now and then, the fish wiggles, but Kingfisher fights to regain stability. At times, thoughts swirled: “When will this romantic flight end?” Yet, he quickly suppresses these thoughts and focuses on flying. It seems like order and strength are, somehow, returning.

Suddenly, a horrifying, ear-piercing shriek rings out. Kingfisher’s vision blurs, darkness falls, and he is hit by a squall of poisonous wind, causing him to plunge from the sky. Dreamy Wings’s silhouette grows smaller and smaller, then disappears. And then, with a bang, Kingfisher crashes to the ground, tumbling and spinning as if the sky collapses.

When he finally opens his eyes, he finds himself lying in a grassy field, not far from a menacing snake inching closer, ready to feast away. Snake just misses Kingfisher but is now determined to rectify the mistake.

Realizing the danger, Kingfisher swiftly springs to avoid Snake’s fangs. He flies to a safe spot. There is no sign of the fish he has been carrying; he suddenly realizes the truth: the dream of love was still just a dream. At noon, he experienced a beautiful daydream, and Snake’s shrill hiss jolted him to the ground. Thankfully, the fall was unexpected for Snake, then, Kingfisher had some time to escape with his life.

The profound life lesson Kingfisher takes away from this horrific situation is now solemnly philosophized:

— No utility compares to that of escaping an illicit dream, alive and better off, still intact!

Illustration: Kingfisher (CC BY-SA 4.0)

*Note: The narrative’s conception came from a real-world story intended for Meandering Sobriety [1]. Then, it was rewritten in Vietnamese in mid-September 2023, with its original title being “Love’s Dream of Kingfisher and the Joy of Awakening”. This English version will be included in the next edition of The Kingfisher Story Collection [2].


[1] Vuong QH. (2023). Meandering Sobriety. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C2TXNX6L

[2] Vuong QH. (2022). The Kingfisher Story Collection. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BG2NNHY6