The other day, our dog Sadie caught (and killed) a bird in the garden. Although I felt deeply saddened by the death of the bird, it was of course impossible to be angry at her. A dog’s natural instincts are to hunt and kill for food (as that is how they would survive in the wild).
The incident got me reflecting about human instincts – and how we (as a society) have become so detached from the natural world, and our role within it. Most of us are disconnected from the food we eat – we rely on purchasing products, packaged in plastic, from the supermarket. But when we are not directly involved in the farming and food-production process, we don’t see or feel the impact we have on the ecosystem that we are a part of. We aren’t as mindful of our footprint – we don’t appreciate how gluttony and taking more than we need disturbs the natural balance. We don’t appreciate the animal lives taken, or the way that industrial agriculture destroys the soils. Nor are we truly grateful for the abundance that nature provides us – we take it for granted that we can just go to the store and pick whatever we desire from the shelves, all year round.
On a related, but slightly different note, Sadie’s bird-hunt reminded me of this poem “Bird with a Broken Wing”, which I wrote a couple of years ago (copied below). It is based on a true experience I had of a hummingbird flying into the window of the home I was renting in Costa Rica. This was a regular problem – and I decided that when I built my own home, I would not use glass, because of the confusing effect it has on the wild birds. In a tropical climate where the weather is warm all year around, if you’re living in harmony with your surrounds, having glass is also unnecessary. Smart, ecologically built homes with proper ventilation are enough to live comfortably – there is no need to burn through electricity (and pollute the planet) by closing yourself off and artificially cooling with A-C!
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The cleaner had just left, the windows to a polished gleam, a crude illusion, that there is no separation between – me, and that outside world, expansive opening of life too vast and wild, for comprehension, my raw human self still struggling, wading thick and deep, in those muddy canyons of my mind, where I’m desperate to find, some kind of an answer. Meaning? Purpose? Am I in control, or is it fate? Its fickle concept evades me, running away, the more I seek. And I look up, to a butterfly, battering its fragile wings against the lofty ceiling, driving itself to a daze, in the confines of my shelter – perhaps it’s really, a prison cage; spiralling, tessellating thoughts, that echo in egotistical detachment from the humble beat of a child’s heart. Bang. A thud against the glass, I almost felt before I saw it, the impact of a free, flying spirit, brought to the ground, to flesh and blood, to the painful reality I chose to construct, by the silence of my voice. It’s there, right on my doorstep, the threshold of my follies, dividing line, demarcating the times, I cross over – in and out out and in always back, always seeking the bewitched familiarity, of quaking stability; for these comforts are crumbling, as I sit here, noticing the tension in the place where my womb ought to be but feels like empty, outer space. I go to find the bird, where it lays across my doorstep, and I kneel, and I gaze, at its little trembling belly, at its tiny eyes flicking – open and shut shut and open and I find myself, praying for its blessed fragile body, as I wonder, what went wrong and what about, this abode drew it in from its flight spiralling wings of life. Those cursed polished windows, as though that’s supposed to help me see, with the bright clarity of day. Reality strikes it’s for real now; a shattered mirror, reflecting dreams that are unfurling in the fallen embers of this broken wing – the minutes pass, the silence weeps; sticky with puss-soaked tears, that bleed through this snapshot in time, reminders to look again, and find my axis, in the spinning top of these distorted, melting memories, slipping away now as though they never even belonged to me, now that I see, these shackles upon my soul. The bird lays there. I cannot even leave, without disturbing, its dying peace; a hollow grief, seeps deep into, the fracturing fibres of my being caught, in the wicked relief of my realisations. How many clipped wings, till I rise? No more, I say. No more. And the bird looks up. And the bird flies away.
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I hope this post inspires you to reflect a little on your place within the natural world. I invite you to take a moment to reflect on some small changes you can make in your daily life, to live more in sync with the planet. To give you a prompt, I suggest becoming more mindful of where the food you eat comes from – are you supporting local, organic, sustainable farmers? Are there ways you can cut down on food waste? What about composting or recycling? Perhaps even growing your own food? – my husband’s dad just turned our front lawn into a veggie patch!
If you’re interested in diving deeper to explore lifestyle change, I also offer mentoring services – you can get in touch with me via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
And, if you’d like to take things even further and experience an escape from the city rat-race, you can read more about my community centre project here and get in touch!
Have a wonderful weekend, and thank you for reading.
p.s. “Bird with a Broken Wing” will feature in one of the new poetry anthologies I’m working on. If you’d like to support my creative work so that I can keep on doing what I’m doing, you can buy my debut novel Siege or donate/buy my music on Bandcamp. Thank you so much!