Monday, October 13, 2008

The Birds of Well-Being

by Troy Chapman

Maryann recently sent me an article about crows and ravens having the remarkable ability to recognize and remember individual human faces. Researchers began suspecting this after they trapped certain birds to tag and study. When the researchers returned, the birds would scold them thoroughly and wouldn’t come close enough to be caught again. Yet if the researchers put on a disguise, the birds ceased scolding them and came to get the food they offered.

So they set up an experiment and had a group of people wear one kind of mask and another group a different mask. They had a person from one group trap a bird and someone from the other group give them food, thus identifying one face as being “up to no good” from the bird’s perspective, the other as friendly. Sure enough, whenever anyone showed up wearing the same mask as the trapper, the birds would let him or her have it and wouldn’t go near them. Conversely, if someone showed up with a “friendly” mask, the birds treated them hospitably.

This got me to thinking about peace, joy, connection and other such things. Why? Because, like some of the researchers, whenever peace, joy and other spiritual birds fly in and land close to me, perch on one of the lines of my heart, as it were, my first thought is to trap it. I want to study it or keep it or put a band on its leg.

Yet when I do it acts very much like these smart crows and ravens. It marks me as an “unfriendly” and keeps away from me. It tells the other birds “watch out for that one,” and together they all scold me from a distance.

Then I made this connection: They’re staying away because I keep trying to trap them. I want to possess them rather than be in relationship with them.

The other day I was in this place of having been abandoned by peace, joy, connection and all the other birds of well-being. I was reaching, trying to grab one and drag it into myself when I stopped and focused on putting peace into the room and the world around me. In a few moments I started feeling more peaceful. I did the same with joy and got the same result.

As long as I was allowing the birds to fly through me, I received their gifts. As soon as I tried to stop and keep them, they avoided me. I’m trying now to just watch these birds of well-being come and go, to shoo them out into the world rather than trying to keep them, and to simply bless them on the way by.

3 comments:

justice4all said...

I have found lately that this concept can apply to THINGS as well. I can appreciate art on canvas, a beautiful hand-knit sweater, unusual vase or knicknack on a shelf, or a myriad of other delightful objects without having to OWN them, just for the sake of personal enjoyment. It's very free-ing to look, but not own. Besides, I really don't need to add to my collection of "stuff."

Sue Finch said...

What a profound and sentiment. It does seems as though the more one tries to "keep" people, things, or circumstances in one's life, the more fleeting they are...I loved Troy's thought that it is better to let things or people "pass through" us...

Anonymous said...

What I found most fascinating was the awareness of Corvids as having thoughts, communications, behaviors. If we understand our connectedness, then we can infer the ripple beyond