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The Mocking Mockiingbird
Those demons must be monsters. They have survived days of taunting and physical assault and yet they remain unscathed. No amount of intimidation or aggression seems to have any effect on them. They are fierce, determined, and persistent. One cannot help but wonder what it will take to drive them away - for even a moment.
He’s been here for days now, attacking, chastising, and hammering away at them. He is obsessed. He leaves, only to return moments later to repeat the battery. He seems haunted by these demons. The neighbors are beginning to notice and are intrigued by his behavior. Some have intervened but it has had little effect. Day after day, he returns to battle the demons and day after day, they win. He is - a bird. The demons - are imaginary.
It is fascinating, this battle between a Northern Mockingbird and the side mirror of my Jeep. I watched him for hours today, his majestic self all puffed up looking bold and brave. At times he worked himself into such a frenzy that he emptied himself right there on the surface where he is standing to fight. With wings flapping, he screamed at his own image, too crazy to notice it was himself screaming back. Would I become a witness to the living color version of “To Kill A Mockingbird”?
I began thinking about the similarities in the behavior of this bird and that of humans. Maybe the creatures of the natural world are not so different from humans after all. We rarely study them long enough to become familiar with their individual patterns of behavior. We may notice a migratory pattern in birds when the weather changes and wildlife biologists have taught us that bears hibernate, salmon spawn, wolves roam huge territories in search of food, and that beavers are destructive architects. But it is impossible to really get inside the head of these wild creatures of nature.
What could possibly drive a bird to fight with itself in a mirror, day in and day out? What could cause a bird to feel so threatened by its own image? Does a bird not have the ability to determine what is real and what is its own reflection? Could it be that even in nature there are imaginary demons that dwell within the mind of the four-legged or winged ones?
My thoughts turned to humans. No matter how strong we appear, we all have our insecurities and fears. Are they real or imagined demons? Can we tell the difference or are we like the bird who sees itself in the mirror and becomes obsessed with destroying the enemy? Are our fears so real that we will destroy ourselves in our attempt to destroy the reflection in the mirror?
We are not a reflection though. We are blood and bones, tissue and senses; we are thinking, feeling beings. We have the ability to turn grief into joy and failure into success, We have been blessed with the ability to express ourselves through music, art, dance, writing, and so much more. We are blessed with the gifts of love and friendship and we have the capacity to be charitable and playful and, to laugh. We do not have to stay stuck in indecision or fear or to allow others to discredit us or diminish our purpose for being here. We do not have to allow others to abuse us or to make us feel unworthy. We do not have to be obsessed with destroying the enemy. The enemy is only as powerful as the power we give it. The enemy is us.
That foolish mockingbird doesn’t have enough sense to know it is fighting its own image in the mirror but we do.
We can change what we see by changing our attitude, surrounding ourselves with positive people, giving the best of ourselves to others or to a worthy cause. We can change what we see in the mirror – if we want to.
Update: October 2014
It's been over a year since I wrote this piece and he's back. This crazy mockingbird has returned to the complex and is once again arguing with himself in the car mirrors. I've watched him for the past two days as he flits from one car to the next and I wonder why his little body isn't worn out. He must be exhausted but he is so determined to win the fight with his own reflection.
- I find myself wondering:
- Where was he all summer?
- Did he dream of that enemy bird and count the days until the sun was just right for hijm to reveal himself?
- Did he return here just for the sake of the fight?
- Will he return again?
This silly bird has captivated me and I will allow him to fight for another day or so but then, I'll have to save him from himself and collapse the mirrors on my Jeep before he hurts himself.