What remains

We all live in versions of our own individual realities, and mine seems to lend itself to the eccentric. There are moments when I wonder about each of those decisions, great to small, that have led me to my home on Same Old Road. Are choices I have made the right ones? Everything blurs together as the urgency of a moment subsides.

Yet even with the uncertainty of what each day brings, I can feel life pulsing. My zen Buddha cat lies purring beside me, a tiny, grey paw stretched out to gently touch my chest. Another fluffy companion tentatively joins us on the couch.

Just yesterday, an Alder flycatcher, the first for my yard and certainly quite worthy of note, flew into one of the many south-facing windows on my home. I ran down the stairs as soon as I heard the “thunk” of a hopelessly tiny body against unrelenting glass.

The tiny size of birds is most apparent when they are still and close, an occasion that has rarely come to pass in my many years spent birding. All puffed up on a branch calling out “free beer,” the Alder flycatcher seems somehow larger. A collision with the human world brings me close to this delicate creature. It sits stunned on the porch, wings splayed out, jerking its body in great effort to right itself. I take it in my hand, bouncing my palm gently up and down, carefully bring its feet forward, and set it down again in a simple perched position on the wood. Rain begins to fall, so I make it a temporary shelter from a discarded cardboard box. Back inside, I am distracted, thinking about this animal and the unpredictable nature of our presence on this planet. I return every few minutes to check on it. Each visit shows it more alert, until finally it takes flight and lands in a willow a stone’s throw from the house.

Relieved, I return inside.

I stand at the window and watch the rain.

This brief connection with a seemingly foreign being keeps me grounded and present. In the end, we are not entirely different, this Alder flycatcher and I. I could make a case for the shared qualities between us. We need the same essential things to survive – food, water, shelter. We are each preparing for another migration, albeit on different planes.

At this moment, on the inside looking out, I yearn to trade places and take flight, never to return. The life of a bird seems somehow simpler, hell-bent on survival, starkly independent, living each moment fully and without regret.

Lonely, darkened by August rain and wary of winter, I watch.

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