After months of being stricken with Empty Next Syndrome, I woke up one morning a few weeks ago, finally knowing What Was Next.
I sat down at the dining room table, determined to start outlining “Dragonflying Lessons,” a book that’s been living inside me for way too long.
But before my fingers even hit the keyboard, my eyes were averted by something very strange out the window.
A hummingbird was performing the most unusual aerial stunts imaginable.
From left to right, then right to left, she soared through the air like a miniature trapeze artist.
I called my husband Will to behold the spectacle.
Like me, he just stood there, transfixed.
What was this, some exotic mating ritual?
But once we went outside, our joy turned to “oy.”
Sadly, we realized that our little emerald green friend was helplessly tethered to the long, silky fine thread of a spider web.
We cut the barely visible thread and watched helplessly as the little hummingbird fell to the ground.
We expected the story to end there but miraculously, “Emerald” (she now had a name), fluttered around, obviously trying to fly.
I felt so helpless. I knew I had to something but what? I couldn’t just leave her there.
So, I called my dear friend Rochelle, one of the calmest, wisest and most spiritual people I know.
“She must have come to you for a reason. Get down on the ground next to her and tell her that you’re going to help her.”
“Ohhhh-kay,” I answered, having no idea how.
But I spoke reassuringly to Emerald who was still fluttering around, futilely trying to fly.
Her seemingly broken wing broke my heart.
Evidently, I wasn’t the only one worried.
I looked up to find another hummingbird hovering over us. My eyes filled with tears, thinking this must be Emerald’s mama.
While I was having my mini-breakdown, Rochelle was looking up Hummingbird Rescue organizations. (Who knew they even existed?)
In a matter of moments, I spoke to several “hummingbird rehabbers.”
The first told me to fill a syringe (can you believe I even had one?) with sugar water.
I tried my best but probably gave the bird more of a shower than a feeding.
The next rehabber said to “make a nest” so that if that was the mother, she might be able to feed her.
Well, that was a flop.Literally.
Emerald and the tiny plastic container I strapped to a tree both fell kerplunk on the ground.
A third rehabber, Linda (the only one geographically accessible,) said to put Emerald in a shoebox ASAP and hightail it to her house in Woodland Hills.
I was so stressed out by then, I couldn’t even find a shoebox. Fortunately, my neighbor could.
I dashed out the door, shoebox in hand, only to find my car was on empty.
!!?@#$!! I’m not cool, calm, or collected in situations like this.
And it didn’t help that while I was stopping to get gas, EMERALD FLUTTERED HER WAY OUT OF THE SHOEBOX!!!!
Seriously, was I driving 30 minutes on the freeway with a hummingbird sitting next to me?
Uh, make that sitting on my purse.
She had somehow managed to flutter to the ground. (What a lot of gumption for such a tiny little thing.)
I was so nervous, racing the clock and worried Emerald was hurting herself more.
Thankfully, my unflappable friend Rochelle, calmly talked me although the entire freeway ride.
A total wreck, I finally made it to Linda’s house.
This woman is a gift from God. She is a licensed wild life rehabilitation specialist whose house was filled with birds of every kind—from pigeons to falcons. (That morning she had even rescued a mole with cataracts.)
Linda handled Emerald with the confidence of someone who’s definitely been around the hummingbird block.
She washed and fed her (the right way) and gave her a private cage.
I learned that Linda’s house is the “Hummingbird ICU.”
Once they get stronger, she hands the healing hummers off to another rehabber who eventually releases them into her beautiful garden.
Tears of gratitude welled up in my eyes as I left.
Hugging Linda, I said a prayer for little Emerald, hoping she’d make it to the garden.
And knowing I had done everything in my power for this precious little being.
But that night I called and received the sad news that Emerald didn’t make it.
Tears trickled down my face. But that didnt stop my cruel Mind from its tirade:
“WELL THAT WAS GREAT. YOU JUST WASTED YOUR WHOLE DAY, TRYING TO SAVE A BIRD? YOU THINK YOU’RE GOING TO GET YOUR BOOK DONE THAT WAY? AND WHAT ABOUT ALL THOSE OTHER BIG FAT GOALS OF YOURS, HUH?”
Before my mind could go any further, I took a few long deep breaths into my Heart. Ahhhhh…..
And now a word from my Inner Dragonfly:
The care, compassion and dedication you gave to that tiny hummingbird sent ripples of love into the universe.
In rescuing the hummingbird, you rescued yourself.
You and your culture put so much emphasis on accomplishing big goals.
Yet, true joy can be found in savoring the smallest moments.
Like Emerald, you have been tethered– held captive by the belief that you are not enough nor do enough. You have been imprisoned by the old paradigm of having to prove your worth.
By continually judging yourself, you miss the sweetness that can be found in every moment.
Like the hummingbird, flutter from flower to flower, drinking in the beauty and joy of each one.
Follow your heart’s fluttering. It is your instruction manual to life.
Stop taking inventory of what you HAVEN’T done. Celebrate what you HAVE done.
Enjoy the sparkle of life in this instance.
It is fleeting and yet, forever. Like your precious little Emerald.
Well, I have a feeling that this message was for you, too.
With every passing year, the tick-tick-tick of time gets louder. And the pressure mounts to make every moment count.
But sometimes we’re so focused on big goals and aspirations, that we miss the little miracles unfolding right before our eyes.
The same week as this story took place, my dear friend Mona Lisa gave me a card that “coincidentally” had a little bird on it and these words:
“We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” -E.M. Forster
I hadn’t planned on being of service to a tiny hummingbird that day. But it felt sacred. Like I was connecting to something bigger than myself.
And do you know what was waiting for me the very next morning after Emerald had passed?
I found this tiny little bird’s egg right outside our door.
You can’t make this stuff up.
And I hope some of it flies into your life today.
P.S I’d be overjoyed to hear your thoughts. Just wing it below.