Birds have different reasons why they go vagrant, from inexperience to getting lost to flying ahead of a storm. In the past year, I’ve flown my own vagrancy, away from writing.
Echoes of the Past
For many years, I’ve had regrets and wonderings about the past, about the paths I’ve followed, those I’ve turned away from, and those that may have led somewhere completely different. I’ve always loved paths and trying new things, and in recent months, I had a new opportunity, one with promise and the tantalizing prospect of the new, the different, the exciting, the novel, the unexpected.
It was a chance I’d had briefly before, that sparked ever more interest and possibilities despite its inevitable end. I hadn’t thought the opportunity would present itself again so quickly, that these two paths of my life would cross and merge again, but I had to take the steps down the path presented nonetheless.
But why? Why leave the known and familiar, the comfortable and the content, to venture into the unknown?
Like vagrant birds, I was lost in my own way and in my own words, having become too mired in the everyday. I was inexperienced, and uncertain of myself and how to best set along this new course. I was grateful and fortunate to have a helpful flock to guide me, to let me hitch a ride as it were. Yet there was a storm brewing, one that had been fluttering around the fringes and involved more people, issues, and concerns than just my own. As with any vagrant bird, that storm also blew me off course. In the aftermath, my own navigation had broken, and true navigation was impossible.
Through all my wanderings, birds were there. Not just the birds in my own yard, which I no longer had the time to enjoy so frequently, but birds in the new habitat I found myself. There were the black-bellied whistling-ducks that flew overhead on most early mornings, whistling their way to the days pond and brightening the blue sky with their sweet sounds.
There were mockingbirds, cardinals, and catbirds in the nearby brush and few scattered trees, flitting about as they claimed territory and made it known which branch was theirs. Their chatter mimicked the chatter of others, some gossip, some squabbles, some jokes, some collaboration, some questions, some answers.
There were the pair of red-shouldered hawks proclaiming loud and proud that the nearby snag was theirs and only theirs, especially to the osprey on his occasional fly-by. They patrolled their territory each day, reminding everyone and everything within hearing of what they proudly and fiercely own.
Ultimately, the storm in the situation broke, and the circumstances changed. It was no longer the path I’d first seen and looked down, before I ultimately turned my steps to a new direction. But what to do?
Like a vagrant bird, I tried. I sampled things around me, searching for sustenance in the unfamiliar, but without the nutrition I needed. I sought shelter wherever I could find a niche, but cruel winds and cold still intruded. I didn’t recognize the predators until they were upon me, and despite my efforts, no turn, no matter which direction, led me to where I needed.
I could have stayed the new course in misery, but fortunately, unlike most vagrant birds that suffer and cannot recover, I had other options. Options I could take, options where birds and words have led me for nearly 20 years, and options that bring me home. Upon returning home, I was able to reaffirm the most important thing of all… The sun may rise and set on different opportunities, but home is home, and the world you’ve built, what you’ve worked for and what you’ve accomplished, is the foundation of your life. I’m grateful that my foundation is a strong and solid one, with those I care about and who depend on me as well. It is a world that can adjust and adapt, one that can change with different needs and opportunities. I may have been vagrant for awhile, but I’m home again, on the path I’ve forged and it is a good one.