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Lessons from a Hummingbird

So it happened for the second time this spring. A hummingbird flew into our garage and couldn't find its way out. Bless its tiny heart. I watched in dismay as it frantically flew in circles, unable to solve the predicament. Both doors were open, along with one leading out to the patio: the escape route was clear, but it eluded the little fella with each frenzied pass. I helplessly watched as it landed on random objects, obviously exhausted, turning its head from side to side, surveying the scene. And then, it took off again, repeating the same flight pattern, unable to set itself free.

I started to think that perhaps I had witnessed some grand metaphor for life's problems. We are human beings who inhabit a complicated world. Inevitably, there will be difficulties. Sometimes, they are of our own design, the result of poor judgment or hasty decisions or perhaps simply rotten luck. And sometimes, they are dumped on our doorstep by others with whom we have connected our lives. But make no mistake, the challenges will come, and we must choose how we handle them.

Certainly, what separates us from the animals is our ability to analyze, evaluate, solve. But in weighing the options, we often overthink things, finding ourselves paralyzed and indecisive. Perhaps we are blinded by our own panic, flying around in circles like the poor bird.

Perception, as we all know, is reality. And if we perceive the obstacles as too great, if the windowpanes through which we view life are clouded by doubt and uncertainty, we are inevitably stuck, unable to move forward in either direction. Maybe, just maybe, the answer to our problems is as simple as stopping and looking around for a solution, one which was often right there in front of us the entire time. It is something to consider, right? Occasionally, we must be still and listen for in this place of calm we find ourselves. That isn’t always easy in a world filled with distractions, but it is where the truth lies and where God resides.

Ask any biologist to describe the primary factor in survival of a species and the response will be simple: it is the ability to adapt to change. And that is especially true of humans. So much of what happens to use is beyond our control and the resulting frustration as we rage against the unfairness of it all robs us of peace. Contentment and acceptance is closely related to that adaptability. I think they call that rolling with the punches.

Cancer has altered my life in countless ways, but it has also given me numerous opportunities to grow my soul. I think that being sick has given me insight into life that I might not have otherwise known. I am grateful for the resulting wisdom. And I am learning to bend, not break.

And so, as I pack my bag for the hospital, I know that this surgery could be life-changing, depending on the outcome. As I begin my recovery, I will also remind myself that I am not caught in some inescapable trap. I will reevaluate and adjust, even if that means redefining things for a while.

By the way, the little bird eventually found its way to freedom, soaring higher than before. Let's hope we all do as well.


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