A Grain of Sand

     The problem with getting behind on your blog is that the more time that goes by the harder it is to update. Not because there is nothing to write about, but because there is so much to write about. Like just about everyone else, I have a lot of opinions about the election, and a lot of thoughts about the future of this country. But this is not a political one, so that is about the extent of my commentary on that. I am also a firm believer in living in the moment, which doesn’t mean I don’t think about the past or worry about the future, just that I am most concerned about today, and what I can do to make the most out of this very precious day. And most days there is so much to do  that once I fall out of the habit of writing it is hard to find the time again. Suddenly things that seemed so pressing to write about no longer seem all that relevant to the present moment.

     Life is finite, and all too often people live their lives worrying about the future or regretting the past. It is not a way to live. Perhaps the immediacy of my daily tasks keeps me rooted in the present; everyday the birds in my rescue must be taken care of. It really doesn’t matter what else is going on in my life. They must be cared for. However, it is also a philosophy I grew up with, as my dad was a big believer in mindfulness and living in the moment.

    Today the rescue is so much more than a rescue. It is not only the realization of a dream for me; it is the fabric of my life. Supporters of the store and rescue are not mere customers; many have become personal friends. We have shared milestones of life together, both good and bad. Recently I learned that one of my long time customers is now in hospice care. I have been to her house. I have learned personal details about her life. I know of some of her personal pain, and also her joys in life. She, as well, knows about some of mine. When she was diagnosed with cancer she made the painful decision to put her birds in a sanctuary. I say painful not because it wasn’t the best thing for her birds, but because she placed them before she needed to. She responded well to treatment and for awhile her cancer was gone. We had a couple of heartfelt and anguish filled conversations about her decision. She regretted putting them in a sanctuary and was considering bringing them back home. I was against that decision, for inevitably she would have to put them through the process again, as she was in her 70’s and her family, with lives and interests of their own, were not interested in taking the birds. And, as it turns out her cancer came back. This time it was terminal.

     Her imminent death seems grossly unfair to me, for she is someone who should have had a couple more decades of solid living ahead of her. She recently retired, and was looking forward to the many wonderful joys leisure time can bring. She is intelligent, well-read, curious, and lively; and committed to living each day fully. It seems so unfair to me that her life is ending soon, even though she herself is at peace with it.

     My thoughts are with her family, and I am also reminded of the sadness of my own dad’s death from cancer. It is a difficult thing to process, the death of a parent, and it is very difficult to watch someone grapple with their mortality, to struggle to come to terms with an end we all know is waiting for us, but few are truly ready for. My dad thought that he would have years to pursue his interests; I guess we all feel we have decades to fulfill every dream and ‘bucket list wish’. I am no different. I intend to travel, to learn to sail, to see the world, and to spend more time creating art; art that is of a more personal nature. Art that expresses my personal visions, as opposed to simply things I enjoy making.  These intentions are vaguely part of my future plans, and with the exception of being creative, not things I am actively working on achieving.

     The only negative aspect of dedicating my life to unwanted companion birds is that it allows for little flexibility in my life. It isn’t that I can’t get away, just that the amount of planning it takes leaves me with little desire to make that effort. I suppose I would say that basically I am lazy when it comes to travel. I prefer to live inside my head a lot, thinking about concepts I want to work out in my art, rather than do the work it would take to plan a lengthy vacation. But I live with few regrets, because I have lived my life pursuing my dreams and achieving many of them. I did not simply wish to sell my art, I actively and successfully pursued that dream. I didn’t just think about starting a rescue. I did it. With most things in my life I can say I have put forth the effort and worked on achieving my goals. But now I am at that point in my life when statistically I have less time to live than the years I  have already lived. Even if I live many more years, my life is more than half over. It is time to get serious about pursuing some of my other dreams. This year, you will probably see me a little less around the rescue. The birds and their care remain one of my top priorities in life. But it can no longer be my first priority. I am blessed with competent and capable people who care deeply about the birds and will continue to provide the standard of care I have set for them. There is more I need to do in this life. My dad always taught me to look deep inside and pursue what you truly want in life, and that the journey is a lifelong endeavor.

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage. ..”
The beginning of a poem by William Blake entitled Auguries of Innocence.

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