Some days, I feel grounded and centered, enlightened–an aspiring Buddhist. And other days–like today–I feel like a wound-down wind-up doll, dressed like something out of the 50s, wearing a flared flannel skirt–complete with crinoline–crisply starched, short-sleeved blouse, black bow at the neck. I’ve been caught mid-stride–frying pan in one hand, rolling pin in the other, head at an awkward angle, and eyes staring straight ahead. At nothing. My mouth frozen in a perfect “O.”
Some days, like today, the world–my life–is just too much. Too much activity. Too much chaos. Too much need. So many animals needing to be fed, cuddled, loved. So many people. Too many. Depending on me. Needing me. Needing me to listen, to do, respond. Too much.
Too much house. Too much land.
There’s a baby bird behind the stables. A fledgling. Must have fallen out of its nest, and it’s dying, and for the life of me, I can’t kill it, even though killing it would be a kindness. Would be the right action to take.
But I can’t.
I can’t kill it, and I can’t sit with it, can’t watch it die. I can’t do it. I want to be the kind of person who could kill that bird, put it out of its misery, and, barring that, I want to be the kind of person who could sit with it, so it wouldn’t have to die alone.
And I can’t.
For people who aren’t animal people, who don’t have that kind of connection with animals, my wanting to comfort a dying, baby bird might seem absurd. And maybe it is. Maybe I’m a fanatic. I don’t know. Maybe it’s not about the bird at all. Maybe it’s about my mother and maybe that baby bird dying alone stirs up memories of my mother dying alone, and I want to get a re-do. A do-over. Make it right for the bird, and in so doing, make it right for my mother. Somehow. Make it right in my head. My heart.
And, you know, maybe it’s not an either-or kind of thing. Maybe I’m not one day that aspiring Buddhist and the next that wound-down wind-up doll. Maybe I’m a little bit both. Every day. And maybe that’s okay.
And maybe not going outside to check on that baby bird dying is okay, too.
But it sure doesn’t feel okay.