For the last three years a female cardinal (yes I know the difference) has journeyed to our home late January through mid March. I realize this doesn’t sound very interesting but what she does during the day, everyday is.
This little red lady perches on the bird-feeder next to our den window and then proceeds to fly into the window three or four times banging her head against the window pane. Then she takes a break, maybe flies off for a bit and starts all over again. She begins her self-flagellation around 10 am and concludes around 3 pm, every day, seven days a week, for two months or so. How do I know this is same bird, I don’t know for sure, but honestly what are the odds of a different female cardinal taking the place of last year’s head banger? Pretty slim in my mind.
Now as you can imagine, this routine elicits several different reactions from me ranging from concern to irritation (it’s tough watching television with the rhythm of a bird beak smashing against your window). But as I watch her beat her little bird head against the panes I find myself also relating to her plight. I don’t know what she sees or what she thinks she is accomplishing, but I have been there. I don’t know why she continues to beat herself up day after day, but I have been there as well. She performs in front of an audience, me and my wife, the cat and the dogs all watching in utter amazement wishing we could help (well the cat wishes she could eat her) but there is nothing we can do and honestly she wouldn’t know how to accept our help if we offered it. Yes I have been there also.
“Some of the worst things in my life never even happened” – Mark Twain
I have been known to beat my head up against the wall for “stuff” I perceived or even imagined. I couldn’t prove it but I thought it. I didn’t see it, but I knew it was there. I didn’t hear it but it sounds like it could be true. I knew I wasn’t accomplishing anything, but it felt better banging my head against a wall (self-pity can be painful). No one could help me because they didn’t know what I was going through (clue one should be if you can’t verbalize what you are dealing with maybe it isn’t real).
I worry about this little bird. I worry she is all alone with no other bird friends. I worry she will knock herself out and one of my dogs will eat her. I worry she won’t come back and irritate the shit of me next year. I want her to be happy, find a mate and make more little cardinals. The world needs more cardinals filling our trees. I hope her story has a happy ending. I hope my story has a happy ending. I hope yours does too.
“To treat your facts with imagination is one thing, to imagine your facts is another.” – John Burroughs