It was the last morning of our holiday in Italy and I was in the bathroom pretty early, still half asleep, when I heard a dull thud and sharp clicking sound on the window. Through bleary eyes, I realised a tiny bird…a little wren…was throwing herself against the window pane. In between attempts, she sat on the metal grille over the window frame and flapped her wings in that super-rapid vibration of a fledgling that is trying to get attention, a pure current of essential life-force made manifest…before hurling herself against the window pane, as though attempting to fly beyond it…over and over again. At first, before I fully realised what I was seeing, my instinct was to grab my nearby camera and take a photo of the gold-tinged bird in the pool of early morning sunlight but, when she redoubled her original effort to fly through the glass in a way that now seemed like obsessive compulsion, a self-destructive act that I couldn’t bare to be witness to, I became really concerned. I should add here, the wren is my very particular totem, one which has a tendency to show up at all the most auspicious moments; so I hold a very tender place in my heart for these understated brown birds who, for all their almost-invisibility, sing the very sweetest song of them all.
Then, of course, I realised she must be looking at a reflection in the glass. Normally dark due to a high wall and a bank of trees, this window was in a rare pool of light due to the sun rising acutely to one side and her feathers were all aglow. She must be seeing a mirror image of the foliage behind her…and herself…in the window and trying to get that illusory bird’s attention, to fly to them. What could I do (bear with me…I was still half-asleep) since I couldn’t open the window since, surely, she would fly straight in before she realised the reflection had gone? Then, of course, I realised that if I turned on the electric light, the illusion would just simply disappear.
Sure enough, as soon as I flipped the light switch, she immediately stopped her repetitive, self-destructive behaviour and flew to the foliage behind her; crisis over. No longer fixated on what she thought she was seeing as her reality, she began hopping from branch to branch and seemed perfectly recovered. Once I knew she was “over it” and had moved away far enough, I turned off the light and went outside to see if my theory was correct. Sure enough, the window…for just the next few minutes until the sun moved around the side of the house…was like a pane of mirrored glass and I could see myself perfectly in it; no wonder she had been so taken in. Just then, I heard that sweetest of birdsongs; the wren, high up in a tree very close by, trilling out her morning contentment. She was fine.
For the wren there was no trauma, no need to post-mortem any of this. In a timely way, she had reminded me how, when we allow the illusion of “what is” to dissolve, however that comes about, this enables us to reorientate; which we are able to do with surprising rapidity since, beneath all the illusion, we were never off track in the first place. Who we really are never really left us, it has just been waiting for this moment and so we know, immediately, what to do since our innate knowledge takes up its rightful place. In these moments of truth, we find our own place in the sun and remember how to sing our own particular song.
All kinds of realities can look as real as anything as we proceed through our human existence; we are all surrounded by them, every day, but when we keep hurting ourselves because of them, we can be sure they are a fiction of some kind…perhaps one that is so long-running that we don’t even remember anything different. They can be as convincing as anything we have ever seen, made all the more potent through the tug of nostalgia and familiarity (just as the wren, drawn by the magnetic tug of what she thought was the parent or sibling she no longer needed to take care of her, felt compelled to keep trying to get back to them…) When they are a false reality in our experience, and they suddenly dissolve, we don’t go to pieces with that circumstance but, rather, that dissolution is what it takes to end the repeat cycles of self-destruction….perhaps even those repeated across many lifetimes. We stop hurling ourselves and hurtling mindlessly towards things that don’t serve us, in search of what we have fixated upon as “what we need to perpetuate in order to survive”. So, now, we can get on with our far more authentic, fulfilling and healthy lives; ones in which our natural talents get to shine and we are “taken care of” by the way things have a habit of coming to us exactly as and when we need them the most, often in surprising and synchronisistic ways that are blocked when we spend all our time focusing on the illusion. We stop being so fixated on whatever sures up an “old” version of our self; a yesterday version of who we think we are, so we can get on with our most inspired lives, being who we really are, now.
The wren had shown me that when the false light of what was, really, quite illusory and not serving her at all was suddenly disempowered, the true light was able to reassert itself…out there, in the garden, where she now sings her song sweetly. As is sometimes the case before illusory worlds fall apart (as we are seeing happen right now in our world-politics…), the fake light even had to be made more obvious false, stepped up to become even more overtly unnatural than ever, in order for her to “get it” and move on. Meanwhile, the true light was there all along; but she wasn’t paying it any attention until the illusion dissolved. What she was looking “towards” in the reflection was what she had already been in the past; she was all wrapped up in nostalgia and a now-defunct belief system, unable to move forwards. Now, she was able to be what she is in this very moment…more fully and without distraction. As I heard her song ring out across the garden, I felt this resoundingly…with tingles.
For the umpteenth time, I came to experience how, though not the most auspicious of birds, being so plain and so very tiny, when the wren “speaks” its as though anyone listening is arrested on the spot; like a fanfare that delivers something waiting to be heard. Sometimes, for me, her actions are her voice and I notice them all; and so helpful they have been. Yes, I know I set up this most-particular relationship with this tiny companion to my life so that, whenever I hear her, I always take notice; that it’s a collaboration that enables me to access things that I already know…and so, yet again (at a time I most needed to) I did.
Newly, when I think about the experience I had, I now check in with myself…
- What panes of glass am I throwing myself against today…?
- Why do I perpetuate these illusions when they clearly don’t serve me (or make me happy)?
- When will I stop (now!) and let the alternate, more authentic, chosen reality reassert itself?
- What have I been missing that was there, unnoticed, all along (cue appreciation)?
- How well-supported and abundantly provided for can I notice myself to be…in this very moment, without resorting to fear mindsets and learned behaviours to grasp “backwards” at what was?