A Day in a Life: Habits

The wrens are back and so we know that the weather will now be milder. They’ve moved into one of the bluebird boxes, crammed it full of sticks and straw, and wake us each morning with their noisy, boisterous chatter, so loud for such tiny birds. The other bluebird box has been occupied by a pair of bluebirds for several weeks now. They came in March and we watched them flit about checking where to nest for quite a while before they decided on the box furthest from our deck. It’s an annual event around here, waiting to see who will occupy which nesting box.

The predators will come...

The robins have also returned in force. Though we can’t be sure, it appears that the same robins are building nests in the same areas again. I am fascinated by their ability to forget what transpired in the years before. The robin family that got devastated by a snake creeping up the small ornamental maple and snatching all but one of the fledglings has moved back into the same tree. Go figure!

Another set of robins made a nest under the deck last year and have done so again, in spite of the fact that they were quite upset at our backyard activities and spent the greater part of the summer contending with us humans. This year they have moved even closer to the backdoor and every time it’s opened the mother flies off the nest in a screaming panic. We had watched the nest building along the main beam there for a few weeks as several decoy nests appeared before the final one was completed.

We’ve noticed how birds never fly directly to their nests but have a way of deflecting attention by taking circuitous routes, but once they set up their flight path they never vary. Go figure that one as well! It’s not that hard to find their nests at all.

On the other hand, I am so grateful for nature trusting us by repeatedly coming to our yard. We have made it comfortable and inviting, nothing is discouraged or turned away, everything is acceptable, that’s just the way it is—Oh, except for the poison ivy! But overall, it’s been gratifying to have front row seats to the unfolding of life, to watch the comings and goings, receiving valuable lessons on a daily basis.

Habits is one of the lessons that comes to mind as I watch these annual nest buildings. Even nature has habits and behaviors as potentially harmful as we humans do, so I don’t feel so bad. Picking the same spot to nest year after year, in spite of what has come before, suggests that all of life has the same tendency to forget, to stay with the known, to just do what generations have done in spite of the known risks. We humans do the same.

As I watch the birds reacting to imminent danger, I find myself appreciating their immediate response, often a shriek or cry and then nervous fear, just like us. Flying about in a panic before finally deciding to attack is quite often the case, seeking to deflect attention from the nest by creating a fuss, but once the predator has its eyes on the nest no amount of fuss will draw it away. The tender young are more inviting than the distraction of a fight with the parents. A predator will do what it can in order to get what it wants, just like us.

Are the birds really that ignorant, forgetful, self-deceptive? Are we? Yup, I think so. Along the lines of making changes in our own lives, we too must contend with the forces of nature, both inside and outside of us. As we seek to shift ourselves out of our usual patterns of behavior and attempt to do something really different and evolutionary, we find that our foes are often as formidable as the predator coming to steal from the robin’s nest. Such a foe is not easily distracted.

Nature, at least nature in my back yard, shows me each year that it has a plan and it sticks to the plan, no matter what. It has enough energy that it can afford to lose countless chicks and whatever else to the predators that will naturally come seeking sustenance and it will continue to produce life in the same manner—no matter what. It goes on doing what it has been doing for eons. We humans, however, have something else in us that makes us stop and look at ourselves, our habits, our tendencies. We have something that makes us question our behaviors, something that says, “hey, stop that, do it differently,” and this is what gets us in trouble, but what also evolves us.

Nature in balance...

Nature evolves slowly, very slowly. Man evolves quickly, very quickly by comparison. As I write this, I look out the window and see the pesky squirrel digging up yet more of the peas I have planted. I am guilty of habitually doing what I see the birds doing and the squirrel predator has obviously been watching me as closely as I watch the birds. Last year I was quite successful in getting my peas planted undetected and we had a good crop. This year I have been planting and planting only to discover, each morning, that something has been digging up the nice plump pea seeds and leaving deep holes in the soil. I have suspected a squirrel and yet I have just gone on planting, thinking that the squirrel will forget about my peas after a while. But today I see that there is no way that squirrel will forget, for it is nature doing what nature does best, returning and doing the same thing over and over and over again. I guess that bodes well for nature, but it does not bode well for my pea crop this year!

Rather than fighting nature, I’m letting the squirrels have the peas. I’ll settle for other crops that are coming in nicely, planted a little earlier because of the warm spring. It looks like I will have enough food from my garden this year. I can share some things with nature because I just don’t need more than I can consume. I don’t need abundance; I just need enough.

In the meantime, I ponder my own evolution. Am I really doing anything different? Am I just another creature of nature and habit? Do the birds and squirrels have an inner world as rich as my own? Are we humans really all that unique? In the end we are all of us—birds, squirrels, humans—just different forms of energy, inhabiting this world for a time, but I am intent on maintaining my awareness beyond this world, and so I remain alert to what is around me, aware of the passage of time and the seasons, habits and processes, learning what I can.

The Shamans and the Buddhists suggest that we use our time to hone our awareness, using both our waking time and our dreaming time to prepare for our evolution from this life, so that we can learn to stay awake when we die and not miss a thing. We are all beings who are going to die, but in the meantime we are also all beings who are offered the opportunity to truly live and grow our awareness. How we elect to do that is extremely personal and it can take us a long time, the natural time it takes for us to reach a level of awareness that life is more than just what meets the eye.

There will always come a time when we have to make a decision. Do I return to the same place and do the same thing all over again, knowing full well the consequences of my actions, or do I do it differently? As humans we can change any time we want, simply by doing so; by choice and will and patient practice we can change. Change takes action and acquiescence, acceptance and daring, letting go of something while embracing something new. There is always a give and take. Sometimes we might think we are losing something precious but we discover, eventually, that we have gained something even more precious, but it’s only in taking action that we will discover this.

During this time of year, the pagan feast of Beltane—of nature’s passing from one time of year into another, of birth and rebirth—is celebrated, but in reality we have the opportunity to rebirth ourselves into new life at all times. It’s pretty daring to be that way, to confront both the self and the world, asking for new life.

Like the foxes...just passing through...

Although Jeanne and Infinity, in Monday’s channeled message, suggested that the world is far-gone now, I did not feel that meant nature, but only that it meant the world man has created. Nature, as I see every year, will continue doing its thing, just as we will. But, as conscious humans, we have the opportunity to do our thing differently, because in the end it’s our world that is now impacted rather than nature’s world. Perhaps it’s time to admit that we just didn’t get it quite right, to take stock of what we really value and really change now how we live.

Can we live in symbiotic balance with nature, knowing that there will be enough for us? I know that I will survive on what is in my yard, that flowing with nature means that I must stop fighting it and stop taking from it. It means being as simply and straightforwardly natural as the critters in my yard, by giving and taking with full human awareness that I am only passing through.

Just deciding how to live and give, most humbly thankful and grateful for all that I have,


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