I can never fully understand someone elses feelings. I can have empathy and at times sympathy but that is all. I can try to relate what they are telling me, to an experience in my life that has similarities or try visualization. That is the best I can do to understand what they are going through. The best thing (not the only thing) I have to offer to them is my willingness to listen, and my willingness to believe and accept their truths. All their truths, not just the truths that I am comfortable with. I see so many people who pick and chose what truths they will accept as the other’s truth, and what they won’t. That isn’t support, that is super-imposing your view of their reality on them.
Today, I was thinking about just how much any of us can understand what another goes through while I was watching one particular chickadee outside my kitchen window. I find answers from nature more often than not.
That chickadee was perched atop a rusty cast-iron hangar that is shaped like a cat, and below the cat hangs a bell I use to call in the dogs. For a second I chuckled at the irony of the chickadee perched on the head of the cat. As I was watching, I noted the way the chickadee was surveying the ledge below where the peanuts were, and checking the surrounding area for anything that could spell danger. It was then I realized that chickadee was the chickadee that showed up one day in early December missing her/his right leg (are they called legs? because a toothpick seems a better descriptor).
I have watched that little chickadee recover from whatever accident left it an amputee. The first few days she/he would awkwardly land on the ledge to snag a peanut, and wobble back and forth wildly trying so hard to stay upright with only one leg to stand on. To where it is today, having the ability to perch on the cast-iron cat and survey the area before swooping gracefully down, land and retrieve a peanut, and fly away. Watching the progress and how much the little bird has improved warms something inside of me. I still doubt it can perch on the feeder yet, which is why I will continue to ensure there is always a supply of peanuts on the ledge to feed this little one for now.
I cannot imagine what it is like for the little chickadee, what level of cognition it has other than the will to survive, and yet I can have a willingness to go out of my way many times each day to make it easier to recover, survive, and live free. I will admit that my first instinct was wanting to go rescue the little one and keep it safe inside, but how would that be right – to force a wild bird to live inside a cage – never to fly again, or fully recover to live the life it was born too. I can’t do that because that would be only what I was comfortable with and thought best for it – instead I will just offer my support.
No idea if that makes sense to anyone but me…