Yesterday, as I was sitting in the car in our park in the pouring rain, I received a post from my friend, Truck. It doesn’t look like a good day for the park. Want to do coffee in my office? For some reason, we haven’t connected for coffee in quite a while, so after a few more texts (all correctly spelled and punctuated … one of our shared peccadilloes), we decided to meet at the local Corner Bakery. It was good to see him. We sat outside, under the awning so we could listen to the rain but stay dry. We talked about his peculiar relationship with his boss and mine with my business partner. We learned that we had both recently purchased Google Nexus 7 Tablets and we compared notes at length. We talked about our relationships with our dramatic daughters. We talked about music and the science of music reproduction. He showed me a cool video of five people playing one guitar (here) and I showed him one of Stanley Jordan’s amazing rendition of Stairway to Heaven (here).
Truck knows I am easily distracted by small things … flowers, clouds, birds, the oddly dressed person walking by … he usually puts up with it good naturedly. Saturday was no exception … a Brewer’s blackbird kept flying from the bushes to the ground under our table, looking for crumbs. I pointed out to Truck that the little guy was hopping around on one leg and when our friend moved to the back of a chair at our table, Truck was officially distracted, too.
He sat there, yellow eyes glistening, wondering when the food would arrive. We told him, We’re only having coffee, but he wouldn’t leave. Up close we could see that one foot was badly mangled and that he only put weight on it if absolutely necessary. I’m sure that the Corner Bakery patio is usually a bounty for him but on a rainy Saturday morning, pickings were slim. I’m hungry and it’s cold, he said in his quiet insistence. Even one-legged birds need to eat their weight in food each day to survive. Eventually, I bought a blueberry muffin and fed him some crumbs on the ground. He ate his fill, then settled happily on the fence for a nap.
This little bird had adjusted to its injury, finding a safe habitat on the patio of a busy restaurant. He’d found an existence that worked for him by Inhabiting the Edges of his comfort zone. He’d overcome his natural fear of humans by discovering that hungry Anaheim Hills diners aren’t usually dangerous, giving him an advantage over birds with two good legs. He’d found that if he joined said diners at their table, a few would hear his plea and provide a meal. I doubt that he complained to his Brewer’s blackbird friends about his misfortune … in his world, they’d probably just beat him to the available crumbs. Acceptance comes naturally to most creatures and he seemed to be a happy bird. He’d likely still be living in the trees if not for his injured foot.
It’s the same for most people … growth and change usually happens under duress, when difficulties strike. For us, though, acceptance is only one option. Unlike the little bird at our table, we are capable of denial, dependence, depression and a variety of cries … why me? … poor me … it’s unfair. We may be able to find people who will share their crumbs. But if we want to grow, we have to accept our lot and Inhabit the Edges of our comfort zone. Then maybe we, too, can be happy birds.