I’ve been searching for a bird since I was young.
When I first heard this bird’s song as a child, it struck me immediately. It was only four notes, but each was pure, melodic, and beautiful. It didn’t feel like a random assortment of tones; it felt like a motif—like it meant something.
Since I first heard it, it has felt like this birdsong has been following me ever since. I hear it on hikes, in TV shows, in city parks, and even in movies.
Normally, I wouldn’t ascribe meaning to something that’s very likely a coincidence. When I told my wife about the birdsong, she said it could be my guardian angel. I don’t know if I believe in angels, but the idea has always stuck with me.
If you’re curious about why I’m not writing about a specific bird’s call and how I’ve become enamored with it, it’s because I don’t know what kind of bird sings this song. Somehow, the name of this particular bird has eluded me. I’ve spent hours trying to identify the bird. I’ve described its call, recorded it, and consulted with birdwatchers.
Maybe I just haven’t worked hard enough to find it. Over the years, I’ve realized that figuring out what kind of bird it is isn’t necessarily going to make it more meaningful. The air of mystery surrounding this bird has added to its allure.
I hear this bird’s call still, and it brings a smile to my face. Whenever I see a bird in the cool, still hours of the morning, I wonder if it could be the one whose song has haunted me like a half-remembered melody.
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve slowly let go of my search. This bird—though I do not know its name—has taught me that you don’t need to identify something to understand its beauty. You only need to appreciate it as it is.
And if four notes from the throat of a bird can bring me joy, so too can a mountain, or a tree, or a sunset. These days, I find myself marveling at a flower or the moss on a stone. There could be truth in an ocean wave and some undiscovered meaning in the feel of a warm breeze.
If you can find something small in the natural world to admire, it eventually becomes so much easier to fall in love with the natural world as a whole. By appreciating just one small part, we can learn to appreciate it all, piece by piece.
It’s so easy in the hustle of day-to-day life to miss the beauty of the things around us. But if you pay attention, you find there’s so much wonder—both large and small—all around us. You only need the mindfulness to stop and pay attention.
Somehow, I think the bird taught me that, too.
Though I may not believe in guardian angels, if I did, I couldn’t have asked for a better one.