Saturday, July 16, 2011

Conversation with the Grackle

I have mentioned that I have a depression disorder. I don't talk about all that much, as I take good meds, and I have an excellent therapist.So, I honestly don't worry too much. But, as with all of us with mental health diseases, I have days when all of my coping skills come to naught. I have always called these days my BlackBird days.

BlackBird days are the days when it feels as if a huge black bird has flown into my field of vision, wings outspread, covering my eyes and my mind from seeing anything but the darkness. I knew I had the right therapist when shortly after beginning to work with her, she mentioned something she called Black Bird days!! I nearly wept with joy to know that she got it!!! She is an integral part of my healing and growth.

My BlackBird days are much fewer and farther between than they have ever been, and when I do have them it seems it is more a matter of grief than mental illness these days. Grief, is the most difficult process!! It rolls over me in the oddest times, just when I think I am healing here comes a black day!! This week was my late husband's birthday. Plus I am dealing with the feelings that my mobility issues have brought to the fore, and the weather is just middle of July, midwest UGLY!! So there I was sitting on the deck, kinda feeling sorry for myself, which I honestly try not to allow!!

It was early morning, my favorite time of day for my deck. The sun just starting to approach the horizon in beautiful cotton candy pinks and pale lemony yellows. The morning song of the birds a wonderful backdrop to meditation.Then I saw the grackle, sitting at the end of my deck. Now a grackle is part of the family of birds known as blackbirds. It is often mistaken for a crow, it is longer, and its tail is different,and its behavior is a bit different. The thing I love about watching the grackles in my yard is that they do not hop, they walk, and the adult birds are very concerned about the younger birds. Usually, though, the grackles don't get very close to my deck, they tend to stay out in the open in the yard. So I was surprised to have a grackle sitting there about 6 feet away.

Of course, I said good morning, I always speak to any of the birds or animals that visit me when I am on the deck. Most often the bird or squirrel will scamper away, unless it is one of my regular visitors. the critters who have become used to me being there. This bird was not one of my regular visitors, so I was surprised when he just looked me in the eye, and walked a bit closer.

Now, this is the part where you can decide that I imagine things, and I would not disagree with you. But, to quote Albert Einstein...Imagination is more important than knowledge.

The grackle continued to look at me, and then the grackle spoke to me. No, the grackle did not SPEAK with words, but the grackle did speak, in the not unpleasant squawk of the grackle-it is less jarring than a crow. Hmmm, I took it to be a greeting, good morning right back 'atcha' type of thing, so I continued to speak to the grackle.

I thanked brother grackle for visiting me on my deck, and I talked about the weather, and all the time the grackle was listening and vocalizing. We had some companionable silences, and then I began to tell brother grackle about my images of Black Birds. I shared that the image of the Black Bird blinding my vision has always been uncomfortable for me. While I was sharing, brother grackle turned a bit, and I saw the most amazing thing. Grackles, are not black! Oh they look black when you see them in your yard, but sitting this close, and in the morning sunshine I saw the truth. This bird was anything but black, the feathers are wonderfully iridescent in all of the colors you can imagine!Well, that made me think!

So I talked to the grackle about his feathers, and the beautiful colors, and I started to see that my mood this morning was not a part of my depression,not a part of any illness but a normal part of the grieving process. I have several things that I am grieving. Of course, the loss of my husband is the major loss, but other parts of my life are lost to me more every day. Because of the neurological diseases I no longer am able to sew, and I miss sewing. I can no longer wield a chef's knife with skill as I cook, and I miss cooking. I can no longer just decide to go for a walk, or visit a museum. Walking is more and more difficult and painful and I must decide whether I need my cane, my walker, or my wheelchair today.

But, sitting there seeing the beautiful colors of the black bird on my deck was a gift. I could see clearly that things aren't always as you originally perceive them, and just because something changes, doesn't look like you thought it should or would, doesn't mean that it doesn't look like it is supposed to! I often say perception is reality. But the really marvelous thing is that when your perception of something changes, the reality must change with it. So, instead of sitting on my deck feeling the oppression of a BlackBird day coming on, I could learn to see that not all black birds are black. Not all sadness is depression, and sometimes you just have to grieve the things that you have lost. Part of the grieving process is to to come to terms with the fact that your life will be different, and to help you move towards that new normal.

I thought about all of these things as I sat there with the grackle, and then the grackle turned and walked away. I am so glad the grackle visited me this morning, blessed me with a conversation and a lesson. Amazing that Spirit would send me a helper in the form of something I feared-a Black Bird. How often do our fears keep us from perceiving things as there are? Perception, just like life, is changeable, and those who can adapt will always be open  to the beauty that can come even in the form of a black bird who wasn't ever black to begin with!!

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