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Thursday, October 16, 2014

Lessons from birds




These are pictures of a bird’s nest, weaved out of a single leaf on a plant that grows outside my house.
Lesson #1: there’s a lot you can do with minimal resources and a little bit of creatively

Soon, the nest held eggs: four of them, each about the size of an almond but slightly plumper. It was now that I noticed how the nest was nicely shielded from the harsh afternoon sun, tucked away from the gaze of predators, and sturdy enough to protect mother and offspring-to-be alike from wind and water.
Lesson #2:  efficiency lies in simplicity

Before long, the eggs hatched save one. Three baby birds, each the size of half my thumb, lying on their backs with beaks parted, as if hungry or desperate for water. I went to check on them whenever their mother was away and they looked so helpless, I couldn’t help worrying that:
a)      my cat would find them and make a meal of them
b)      they would die of thirst in the hot weather
c)      their mother would be hunted on one of her trips for food and they would die of abandonment
d)      they would die just like that
Too morbid, I know. And you can imagine my dismay when I indeed found the nest empty in a couple of days. My cat was prime suspect but then I saw the bird babies on the low branches of a tree. They had sprouted wings already! Wherein lies Lesson #3: Don’t worry so much about death. Life has its ways of surviving.
And Lesson #4: You’re never too young to fly. Or at least attempt to.

It was fascinating to watch the little family from my living room window. The mother would go to each baby and demonstrate the act of taking flight. One kid obliged most enthusiastically, flying higher and higher at each attempt. One was moody;  sometimes it would fly, sometimes it would just sit there. And the third was stubborn and reluctant. It sat on its branch and refused to partake in the lesson. The mother was unruffled and happily flapped and fluttered with the other two. The next day, all three kids were soaring among the high-up branches, barely visible any more because they were still so tiny. 
Lesson #5: Accept children as they are – eventually, they’ll turn out just fine.

The nest has been abandoned for many days now. Mother and baby birds have all flown away. And while I can't help feeling a little nostalgic about their brief but special sojourn in my compound, I remind myself about the final and most important Lesson #6: Move on. There’s a big world out there waiting to be explored. Life is not meant to be lived in one place. 


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