Birds are unusual creatures; we envy them for their capacity for flight, we pity them for their tiny, blueberry-sized brains, and we often use them in various metaphors relating grand life lessons. Today I had two interesting encounters with birds, and each one got me thinking about the different directions in which we find ourselves moving, and the different places at which we stop.
I graduated from college about a week ago, and naturally it seems that all I can think about is how fast time flies, and where I’ll eventually end up – next month, next year, ten years after that. After school ended, I moved out of the dingy old campus apartment that became my safe haven during the last few turbulent months of college, dragged a few things across the street to a house in which I’ll be unofficially subleasing a bedroom for at least a month, and I went into hiding at my parents’ house for a week – hoping to get my bearings, take a few deep breaths, and get ready for whatever’s next.
College graduation is an uncomfortable transition to say the least, but this moving process was exceptionally awkward for me as I was leaving a place I’d lived in for three months, moving half my stuff into a place I’ll “live” in for maybe one month, and the rest of my stuff back into a place where I’ve lived in the (seemingly distant) past, and may find myself again someday in the future. In other words, I currently have no home. I use the word, but only because it’s much easier to say than “the place where some of my stuff is.” I’ve moved around (like most college students) somewhat like this for four years now, but this is the first time when I really don’t know what town I’ll be in once August rolls around – I know where I hope to be, but unfortunately the reality may be something entirely and painfully different.
From what I gather, though, this uprooted lifestyle is completely natural for birds. Today, I walked out onto my parents’ front porch and noticed something flutter off the top of the big wreath of red styrofoam berries that hangs on the outer wall of the house. My dad had been telling me a bird had nested up there, but he thought it had died or found a better spot. With a closer look, I saw that not only was the nest still there, but I could see five tiny eggs – four nestled snuggly among the branches, and one that had sadly fallen onto the brick below, cracked into a yellowy pink splatter. It seems an odd and unwise place to build a nest, especially because our vicious cat, Sally, will no doubt be camped out beneath it as soon as those babies start flying lessons.
A mere few hours later, I witnessed another bird do something far more strange than build a nest atop a fake berry wreath. My brother and I had driven to get burritos; I parked the car and got out, when all of a sudden he said with surprising calm, “Uh, there’s totally a bird in your car right now.” Apparently the thing had flown in Indiana Jones-style just as the door was about to close, and we could now see him flying around frantically inside, bashing into walls and windows at full force (it’s a small car so these bashes were in rapid succession). We opened the doors and moments later he was gone, leaving us on the curb staring dumbly at each other. I mean, what?!
I guess we can learn many things from these animals: don’t push your tiny eggs out of the nest onto the sharp bricks below, try to watch where you’re flying, and it probably isn’t a good idea to eat styrofoam berries, no matter how delicious they look. With the big scary world ahead of us, and with very little true guidance but our instincts, I think the most we can try to do is fly in what seems to be the best direction at the time, try to keep all our eggs in the nest, and if we accidentally charge at top speed into the wrong place, just bang our heads against the walls a few times before moving on to try somewhere, something, else.