My South Birds are interesting creatures. I’ve had a life-long fascination with our feathered friends. I remember as a child sitting on my great-grandmother’s porch in spring and watching hummingbirds have their way with her petunias, geraniums and other flowers. When we built our house, one of the first things we did was put up hummingbird feeders. They hang just outside the windows of our great room, and we anxiously await the birds’ arrival from South America each year. They fly thousands of miles, and then one morning, they hover just outside the window looking in chidingly as if to say, “Hey, our throats are like a desert out here. Can you get on the stick and put nectar in the feeders?” I built blue bird houses many years ago and put them up in the backyard. Each year we spend a lot of sunny afternoons on the back deck watching the birds build nests and feed their young once they hatch out. Today I went out to the screened porch to write. Often when I can’t come up with a decent idea, I’ll head to the porch. There’s something about wind in the chimes and the earthy smell of spring that inspires me. Even when it seems my creative well has run dry, the porch always provides a spark. As I sat patiently awaiting the arrival of the muse, I realized it was a little warm, so I stepped inside and flipped on the porch ceiling fan. When I looked up, the light globe was so dirty you could barely see the bulb. I flipped the fan and light off and
loosened the thumbscrews holding the globe in place. When I pulled it down, I found a tiny sparrow’s nest. Upon closer inspection, I realized it was from last year. That’s fortunate because had it been a fresh nest, I couldn’t have used the light until after the babies hatched and left the nest. It occurred to me that placing that nest in that light globe was a stroke of genius. The location was dry and out of the reach of the wind. It was about 10 feet from a fountain that runs day and night, and not 30 feet from the bird feeders we replenish daily. A few years ago, sparrows built a nest in the dome of our propane tank. One morning when I went out to check the gas level, I got a surprise when I opened the dome. A tiny mama sparrow flew out straight for my face. I jumped back reflexively, got my feet tangled up and fell right there in the driveway. I looked around, as I always do when I do something goofy, to see if anyone had seen me get my tail kicked by a critter that weighed just slightly more than a well fed butterfly. The only thing looking was that mama sparrow who’d flown a few feet away and was perched on a lower limb of our Rose of Sharon. I’m not sure if birds can laugh, but it sounded like it to me. We had enough fuel to last another month or two, so I waited about calling the gas man until the babies had hatched. When Jilda got home today and asked if I had thought of an idea for my column , I told her I did, thanks to the birds.
That’s Life By Paul Johnson
By Rick Watson
“I got nothing” So I have no idea of what to write about this month. None. Zero. Zippo. Zilch. Nada. Nothin’. Negatory. So I sit here wondering, “What do I do when I don’t know what to do?” Which is actually a rather pertinent question: what does one do when one does not know what to do? Quick answer: breathe, it’ll come to you. A scene from the Pixar movie A Bug’s Life comes to mind. Near the opening of the movie, we see a line of ants carrying assorted food items to what looks like a rock table, piled high with, well, food. A leaf is seen falling from the sky, and it falls across the route the ants are taking to the table. We hear an ant say, “No, no, no, no, no!” as the leaf falls in front of him/her (hard to tell with ants, although my boys would say it’s a boy because it has a boy voice). The leaf lands, and the ant panics, shouting, “I’m looooooooost!” (because, you know, ants don’t follow a trail visually but through their sense of smell, and so when the leaf landed, it blocked the smell-trail the ant was following—I think; if anyone knows better, please send me an email, and I will gladly stand corrected—can you tell I still have no idea what I’m writing about as I continue to ramble on about absolutely nothing seemingly relevant? But let’s see where it leads.). “I’m lost!” can describe the feeling of not knowing what to do. We often define ourselves by what we are doing. And so if we find ourselves with nothing to do, we struggle to feel “all right” with ourselves, and hence, feel a little bit lost, out of sorts, off kilter, out of whack, not quite sure of ourselves, wanting to do something, but
just not sure of what. And so we feel “lost” and often panic. What do we do with that (when a mysterious island in the Pacific is not available to us)? Because most of us hate that feeling, in our panic (or semi-panic), we scramble. We hover. We find a way to get busy or at least feel busy, which serves as a cheap substitute for real purpose. In our scrambling, sometimes we hit a real target (like getting a bathroom cleaned); sometimes we just aggravate those around us. Cut to the chase—what’s best? Sit down. Get centered. Realize you are okay and that you do not need your busyness to be your definition. Then, listen. Listen for what arises within you—what do you want to do that is in alignment with your design, your calling, your purpose? Be still, at least internally, until you hear something. And then, once you hear something, ask, “Is this good, is it beneficial, is it in fulfillment of a bigger picture, is it necessary, does it make sense for me and those affected by me?” If so, go for it. If not, go cook dinner (someone is always hungry). Okay, I guess that about does it. Kids are fed, and hey, look, article is written (albeit, a few days overdue to the publisher). But breathing occurred and panic was not experienced (at least not be me). So on to the next thing. Whatever that is.... Paul Johnson is the executive director of the Samaritan Counseling Center, as well as a professionally licensed marriage and family therapist. You can contact him at 967-3660 or visit www.samaritancc.org. The Samaritan office in Inverness is located at 100 Missionary Ridge..
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