A Little Bird Told Me.
Last week I had a small experience that helped me think about a larger issue. It started with a bird.
As I was walking down a busy city street, I saw a little bird sitting on the sidewalk. It was standing upright, but there was obviously something wrong. Its head was tucked into its wing, and it seemed to be breathing heavily.
That particular morning I was organizing a work outing, and I really needed to get a move on, but there I stood, staring at this small creature.
As a bit of an aside, I have an incredibly soft spot for animals, particularly those that find themselves living in urban environments. How many different ways does it break my heart to see horse drawn carriages circling Chicago’s Water Tower?
That being said, I watched this little bird with a great deal of concern. What should I do? Call a friend? Try to pick it up? Call Animal Care & Control?
None of these options seemed right, so I said a prayer for the bird and went to work.
But did my thoughts about the bird stop there? Oh, no. I thought about that little bird all day. In fact, I pledged that if it were still there when I returned, I would scoop it up, take it home, and nurse it back to health. Guilt, thy name was Rebecca.
When I returned in the afternoon, the little bird was gone, and I hoped it had summoned the energy to fly to a safe spot.
I walked another block and stopped when I noticed two people huddled together, staring at the ground. When I took a peek, I saw another little bird in virtually the same position as the one I had seen earlier that morning. The doorman of the building reported that it had flown into the large glass window a few minutes before.
I was getting a do-over!
I listened to the doorman who explained that the bird had been sprawled out on his back for a few minutes but had managed to right himself and was now apparently resting. The doorman said they were keeping their fingers crossed.
I’ve been writing about my resolution to try to let things go, live in the moment, and not worry so darn much. That includes, of course, worrying about other people. Oh, I have a long list of people that I worry about on a regular basis, and I’m always poised to swoop in and try to help them at a moment’s notice.
As it turns out, “helping” is not always the best way to help.
I returned to my office to get my things. Then I marched right back to the little bird, preparing myself to try to take it to a safe place. A friend of mine had once discovered an injured finch and brought it home with her so it could recover. I could do the same thing, right? Logistics be damned!
When I saw my little bird friend again, he was moving, although kind of like he had had a few drinks. He stumbled around and tried to fly – right into the wall of the building. But he was determined. He started clumsily walking the length of the building, and I followed him.
A few people stared. “That’s, right, people! I’m following the bird,” I wanted to shout.
I was pretty worried about the little guy. And then, the most amazing thing happened. Just as I was convinced that he wasn’t able to fly, he stopped, straightened up, and flew away in a perfectly graceful arc between the buildings of downtown Chicago.
As it turns out, all he needed was some time to heal. And therein lies the larger lesson.
Part of living mindfully, I believe, is being of help to others and to the planet. If you’re like me, you may have been trained to think that the best way to help someone is through action. That is true much of the time. However, maybe, sometimes the best way to help is to not do anything. Sometimes all people need is space and time to heal.
I think the little bird would agree.
Rebecca Grazulis is a Chicagoan, a vegetarian, a wanna-be yogi and a former high school English teacher in a period of career exploration. You can e-mail her at [email protected] or visit her at her website.
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