A few days ago a huge fat robin flew into the grapevines on the trellis outside of my office window, long enough for me to want to get my camera, but not long enough for me to go get it. It was as if this robin had a mission to complete, and my grapevine trellis provided a resting place just long enough, and then the journey began again, with the robin flying off into the blue sky.
It made me think of my journey, so often feeling like I’ve been blown about like a leaf, but of course this is never true, even though we’d often like to blame our circumstances on other people, places, times. I always told my children that their lives were the results of their choices. Easy to believe when it’s not your own life. It’s a lot harder to decide just exactly what the choices were that led you here or there, to this position, this place in time, this event in your life.
Yesterday as I was leaving in the car for some errands, I was stopped by a not infrequent line of quail crossing the road, marching with a purpose I don’t usually have. They were single file but united in their purpose, which was apparently to get to feeders in the yard across the road from where they nest. It made me wonder how they knew what their purpose was that Saturday morning. To eat, of course. But can it really be this simple?
In so many ways I envy the quail. They sense where the food is and go get it. No decisions about which grocery store, which foods to buy, is it good or bad for their cholesterol, or will it make their feathers look fat in their summer suits? I sat there, watching the quail, smiling to myself at what an easy life they must all have. Then, of course, I looked up the hill to where predators also live, where the snows cover them all winter, where they have little shelter, and decided I’d really rather not be a quail, even though their purpose in life seems so much more simple than mine.
I thought about the quail all morning, in the library, at the grocery store, the drug store, the exercise class that day, waiting for a friend at a coffee shop, and again visiting my mom at the assisted living facility where she lives. Even though I feel like I do few things of importance these days since I don’t work now, I realize I do have important things in my life, yet still manage to float through my days with little purpose. I go from one to-do task on my list to the next, with some things a whole lot more enjoyable than others. At the end of many days I feel exhausted and couldn’t tell you why, at least until I look back at my to-do list and realize the stress built into a particular day.
So I’ve decided that I need to be more like the quail, to march to my destinations fully aware, with purpose, and to cut that errand list in half, or toss it away all together. Some days you just need to do that for yourself, and then fill that time with music, flowers and even poetry. I think it’s called leaving time for yourself in a busy life, and remembering to always include yourself into life’s equations.