A bird joined us for brunch Easter Sunday. It flew in the open doors of the restaurant’s patio beside our table and it landed behind my husband up against a window. It flapped its wings furiously, seeing freedom but unable to fly through the glass wall.
My husband grabbed a coat to catch it and I approached quietly on the opposite side. We had it cornered. I reached out peacefully in an attempt to catch it with my bare hands. I felt its feathers tickle my skin. My husband tried to scoop it up with the jacket like a spoon trying to pick up spaghetti. He succeeded in gently guiding the bird out of the room. Through the open doors it flew.
“What were you trying to do?” He laughed.
“I was trying to catch it.” I said.
“You could have caught the bird flu.” He joked.
After the fiasco was over I thought, what a fun experience! I was delighted at the opportunity to help the bird. And I truly believed I could catch it with my hands if it let me.
But a bird at brunch wouldn’t just be a fun story to share. It was a lesson waiting to be learned.
Later on, around 6:00 pm, my husband received a phone call from a family member who was in trouble. My husband and I went to scoop up another “bird” and help get it to safety.
But when we got there this bird did not want our help. She wanted to be left alone to fend for herself as she tried to fight her way through the glass window. We argued with her in our attempt to be of service but it only caused more trouble.
It was a disheartening experience. We want to be there for a friend or family member in need. That is what family is for. I believe the basic purpose of a family is a means to survive. It’s easier to survive as a pack than alone in the wild.
However, I come from a family that believes in: every man for his or herself. They have a lot of pride and do not want to appear weak or vulnerable. They believe they can survive on their own without the help of their family. And they boast over their ability to not need or depend on anyone.
My previous family dynamics left me feeling inferior. Like a part that has no purpose, I am a person who is not necessary. It made me feel unwanted and unloved.
It is true. We all can survive on our own. We don’t need one another. But there’s a difference between needing and wanting. I don’t need my family to be there for me but I would like them to be. I want them in my life and I want to be there for them, if they would let me. But they remain stuck behind the glass wall, while I have found a way out and have flown to a family that wants me to fly with them.
This was a lesson I needed to learn. It has come up repeatedly in my life. When I first wrote this, I thought the lesson was: You can’t catch a bird that doesn’t want to be caught. And you can’t help someone who doesn’t want help.
But the lesson is a mirror of my own actions. I need to stop acting like I don’t need anyone. I need to stop pushing people away especially, the ones who love me. I am very good at keeping people at a safe distance because I have been hurt by my family, the people who are supposed to love me. And now I recognize that I have carried on this terrible habit and it’s time to stop.
I want love and intimacy. I want to let love in and let go of the people who do not want me in their lives.
We all fly separately, it is our choice whether we’ll fly together.
Now, here is a poem I wrote about my experience with feeding the birds in Kauai two years ago.
Let’s bring it home…
A Hand is a Home
The pessimistic hand is a precarious perch,
a complex structure of bones,
where strength is found in a clenched fist.
The optimist’s hand is an open café,
a comforting place to rest and feast,
where trust is given freely and always received.
The human hand is a home,
a bowl full of love and cracked corn,
where you learn to smile when life shits in the palm of your hand.
Let love in my friends. Ask for help if you need it and always ask someone who is willing to catch you.
Peace & Love,