Friday, May 20, 2016

An Unworried Bird

A few weeks ago, a bird built a nest atop a small wood block attached to our porch ceiling. This in spite of my vow to head off any such nest building this year, given the ongoing mess that ultimately follows this kind of construction project. Yet seemingly overnight, there it was. A perfectly constructed domicile, fully occupied with several small eggs already inside. And so we will have another year of inevitable bird poop all over the porch. Nevertheless, we will survive this intrusion on our well-being for yet another year as godparents to the aviary population.

The nest is just outside the kitchen window, which makes for easy viewing and entertainment as we go about meal preparation and cleanup. I watch as this mother bird flits from and to her nest in continual movement. Flying off to sit momentarily on the wire fence which will house our vine-ripened tomatoes in a few months. Then time to sit on a nearby tree branch. Then out-of-sight, off to parts unknown, likely for a short meal of some kind; it is important to keep the body strong and healthy for the duties of motherhood to come. Perhaps somewhere in all of this flitting will be time spent with other bird friends, socializing and comparing notes. But it is probably predominately a solitary life, tending to the responsibilities that constitute this bird’s routine.

As one day follows the next, and this seemingly endless cycle of daily activity repeats itself, two observations arise: the absolute clarity with which this bird understands its purpose and role; and the unhesitating consistency with which she goes about fulfilling them. Clarity of purpose; consistency of execution. Nothing seems to complicate her understanding of her life.

She appears to know love, evidenced by her careful dedication to her charges in the nest. But perhaps that is only in my imagination as she simply goes about what she is to do. She clearly knows fear, the need to protect herself from harm, evidenced by her rapid departure when I come too near. Yet I wonder … is this little bird “happy”? More specifically, does she worry?

We, the supposedly advanced form of life, worry up a storm. We make plans, and then worry about whether they will come to fruition as we envisioned. We worry about all the ways harm could potentially befall us, even though the statistical likelihood is that they will never happen to us. We worry about our next dollar – do we have enough, will it keep coming, how will we buy the next toy on our list – even though living a truly fulfilling life requires far less wealth than we assume. We join groups of people to alleviate our aloneness, then worry about whether we will fit in, be accepted, be thought attractive / witty / intelligent enough. We form deep relationships with others (human and non-human), then worry about whether these relationships will last. We worry about what people think of us, while most people are too busy and preoccupied to think much about us at all. We worry about losing all we have achieved and having to start over again, yet our life has been lived through continuous change and renewal. We have survived.

We, the advanced species, tie ourselves up in futile worry. That little bird, on that nest, simply tends to her business at hand. I doubt that she does much planning ahead, frets over many regrets, gives up after something called “failure,” or changes her actions based upon what the other birds say or do. Her mission and direction lives inside of her; it simply flows freely outward to guide her. Our mission and direction similarly lives inside each of us. We need only to get out of our own way, and let it flow out of us. Without worry, Guidance can then guide.

©   2016   Randy Bell