Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Insight from a little bird

Some friends reported on facebook the other day that their little parrot had escaped and flown away. This bird had been very unhappy since they first adopted her as a youngster last year. She never adjusted to life in her new home, and repeatedly plucked all her breast feathers out despite my friends’ kindness, caring, and all-out attempts to figure out what was bothering her. Without her feathers to insulate her, she undoubtedly perished fairly rapidly in this winter weather.

I woke up in the middle of that night thinking about the bird, and about what I could say to my friends that would be of any comfort at all. In my mind I framed a message to put on facebook the next morning—facebook is where all of us communicate such events these days.

“Some creatures, like some humans,” I would say, “are just so damaged that they can’t recognize love and safety even when they are surrounded by it. They are too damaged by whatever trauma they suffered at an early age, and never recover.” I’m a psychologist, and I know this stuff, right?

As I was dozing back off, I woke up with a flash of rueful insight: I might as well be talking about myself.

Here I am, financially secure, with the most interesting life of anyone I know and the opportunity to do pretty much whatever I want with my life. I am loved, and I am surrounded by abundance, and I am safe in this world. The Universe repeatedly demonstrates this. Yet I fret and worry and berate myself for not doing “enough,” or “the right thing.” I wait for the other shoe to drop, for The Dreadful Thing to happen. I make myself miserable, just like my friends’ little parrot.

I feel so sorry for the little creature, and for my friends grieving her loss. And maybe now I’ll stop pulling my feathers out.

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

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