One day a few years back, I looked out of my window here in my little log house in the mountain cove, and there was a little bird with a crippled leg. It had to hop about on one leg because the other one was crooked and bent back behind her. I watched that bird every day as she balanced on the feeder, as she hopped about, and as she managed to look graceful all the while. Until one day she wasn’t there any longer and I’ve never seen her since—did she die of natural causes? Did something get to her because of her weakness? Did she find another place to feed that isn’t as crowded by other birds at our bird feeder? I often wish she would come back because it was both painful and beautiful to watch her—I cannot aptly explain that feeling of pity and respect and awe as she’d hop about on one leg, land on the feeder with that one foot, perch on the tree limb with that one foot. Ever tried to stand on one foot? There you go.
I see injured or crippled animals and know that they may be surviving only because we are providing easy food. Take away that easy food and would they survive? Some people/naturalists may ask, “Should they survive?” They ask that because in the natural wild there is natural processes—the weak are weeded out and the strong survive. The weak do not breed or are not bred with because that weakness will be passed on, and if a wild critter is weak, it may not be able to feed itself, or feed its offspring, or get away from predators. We differ there, us humans, as we should, and because we can.
Nature isn’t merciful—or is it is its own way showing mercy? Of course, nature doesn’t allow for these thoughts, because it just is what it is. We humans interfere in nature because we can identify. We see a crippled or maimed animal and we empathize, we sympathize, we know how it feels, or know someone who knows how it feels, or have a loved one who knows how it feels—we attach human qualities to nature; we anthropomorphize nature (look at what some do to their pets, particularly dogs-dressing them in clothing, etc. They become family members and have evolved their characteristics—through breeding or otherwise—to fit in with us.).
Still, when I saw that beautiful bird find a way to survive seemingly unaware of its difference from other birds, I was filled with a joy that mixed with my pity and wonder. The little crippled bird, and all creatures, have an incredible will to survive, they have no time to feel sorry for themselves, for it is in their nature to find a way to live until it is time for them to die. And then that is what they do.
It’s ironic that the “higher of the species,” the more intelligent of them, the “higher evolved” on this planet earth, don’t always have that will to survive or rise above our weaknesses. We can give up too easily. Find things toooo haaaarrrrd. We become discouraged. Disillusioned, disheartened. Sometimes we flat Give Up. Throw our arses out in the wild and see what that attitude will do for us, eh? But we also have the ability to hold up others when they need our strength. We use that empathy and sympathy to understand and then give charity.
I could metaphor this post all up and down for whatever it is a person, you-me-them-us, is going through right now–be that something small or something looming large, but all I really wanted to do was write up a post about this little crippled bird I so admired. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her.
(None of the bird photos are of the crippled bird – I never did take a photo and I sometimes wish I had, sometimes.)
I wanted to write something about my Oregon trip, but I keep holding it to me, as if it is a little gift I don’t want to re-open, for it makes me both happy and sad to see the memories inside again.
Y’all have a wonderful day, rest of the week, and weekend.