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It was only a few days after the worst day of my life that I was blessed with a magical moment—the appearance of a hummingbird fluttering its wings at a speed of 200 times per second around the garden.
The appearance of this tiny bird stopped me in my tracks. I wrote about hummingbirds for my college essay, the Hummingbird Theory of Life. Where I live, you’re never going to spot a hummingbird.
You can sit in a chair all day long in my yard and you won’t even glimpse one. However, if you go to the store, buy a hummingbird feeder (the red one is the best), and fill it with sugar water—amazingly, hummingbirds will come.
It’s incredibly fun to watch these creatures zip about the garden. Their wings are tiny blurs that sound like sputtering helicopters as they scoot around. It boggles my mind how these birds mysteriously materialize in my garden once attracted by the sweet allure—they must have been nearby all the time.
I’m sure that science can explain why the hummingbirds come, and I’m sure the facts make perfect sense. But I like to think (and here’s where my theory comes in) that it is my reaching out to the birds, my sweet offering, that brings them to me and not anything to do with the sugar water.
The world is a giant garden filled with invisible hummingbirds: all you need to do is put out a feeder and they’ll flock to you.
My brother loved hummingbirds too; he was hoping to see one in the menagerie of birds that were attracted to the bird feeders on my parents’ deck. The hummingbird that appeared in the garden two days after his passing was a blessing and a sign.
A hummingbird symbolizes love, joy, and beauty. Its unique ability to fly backward teaches us that we can look back at our past without dwelling there while we continue to move forward. The hummingbird’s aptitude to hover while drinking nectar reminds us to savor each moment and appreciate its sweetness.
2020 has been a year of change, of adaptation, of loss in so many ways. A loss of freedom and opportunity, a loss of jobs for millions of people, and a loss of many lives. This year has shaken us to our core; it has forced us into a metamorphosis that we had no choice in experiencing. I don’t think anyone could have imagined waking up in a world where we learned to become afraid of life as we previously knew it.
Gone are the days of waking up and grabbing coffee in your local shop, or greeting a friend with a giant hug, or attending a concert surrounded by thousands of others relishing in the same song that brings them life too.
The freedom to travel the world, to visit your loved ones in a hospital, to get married in front of all of your people, the things that we never thought would change all did in the blink of an eye. I have cried more tears than I knew were even possible to form. There are days when I struggle to see the light, to feel the hope in what has been the hardest year of my life. I am not writing this as an outlet for my own emotions, but for others to relate to and realize that it is okay to admit to hardships, and it is even more important to find your reasons to endure.
My first words in life were: life’s not fair. It sure isn’t; it’s far from fair. Bad things happen to great people; people’s lives are cut too short. We sit here and question why. Asking why will never bring us peace. Instead, we must choose a path of maturity and realize that we are not in control of so much of what happens in life.
If you’ve ever lost someone without warning or been laid off from a job unexpectedly, you will realize you are not in control. We don’t know what life will look like from one day to the next, even from one hour to the next. The thing is, we’ve never been able to accurately predict the future. We didn’t lose control; we simply never had it to begin with.
My hardships this year have taught me some important lessons in life which I want to share:
1. Life is precious. You understand this after a loss. Every goodbye, every ending afterwards feels more extreme because of this. Don’t take things for granted. As I previously wrote in my blog earlier this year, in a world where you can be anything, be kind.
2. It is important to acknowledge your emotions, whatever they may be. Anxiety due to uncertainty in this pandemic world, grief over loss of any kind, depression…whatever it is, acknowledge it. This is one of the scariest things, but most important things to help you come out the other side. Name the emotion, talk about it, free yourself from it.
3. You are not alone. You could be sitting next to someone on a plane who just experienced the same loss that you did. Your neighbor, your mailman, your coworker could all be battling a deep depression and feel so hopeless in a world that has delivered endless streams of bad news.
I have talked to friends of friends, to complete strangers and shared our stories about losing a sibling. In this, I have found peace. This year I learned how terrible it is to join this club, the grieving club, one that I never requested access to.
The beginning was tough; it has affected me every day since. Any moment of happiness is touched by the sadness or guilt of my brother not being here. As time has passed, I have learned that he would not want me to suffer. I should live my life to the fullest.
I will be sad, I will miss him forever, but I am still here, and the greatest thing I can do is honor the memory of him by continuing to live the life he cannot. We are not alone; we all have endured or will endure pain, loss, and suffering at one point in our life, so why do it alone?
There are still things to enjoy in life—simple pleasures that we take for granted. Stop for a moment and think about what these are for you because these simple pleasures will always bring you joy, even if just for a moment.
A warm cup of coffee in the morning, climbing into bed with clean white sheets, throwing on your comfiest sweats after a long day, holding a newborn baby, the smell of freshly baked cookies, a sunset or sunrise—a few of the many simple pleasures in life.
Think about all the reasons you still have to live in this world. There is a reason you are here. I believe there is goodness in the world, and there is light inside all of us, even if it’s been dimmed temporarily. Humans can endure anything so long as they cling to hope for what tomorrow will bring.
A hummingbird is always right around the corner; just put out that sugar water.