I awoke to four sweet, staccato chirps, and smiled as I listened to the persistent warbler outside my bedroom window. Again and again he beckoned to me with the same four-note aria, paying no heed to the drawn shade that separated us. I knew he was calling to me, but I didn’t want to stir from my warm bed. Tossled, twitching branches on the tree outside cast a quivery shadow against the shade, and a blustering gust of wind buffeted the house’s siding, confirming my suspicions: It was a cold, windy day out there.
I think I’ll stay put, thank you very much.
Still he sang. His notes were melodious and clear; I was content to just lie there and listen. So much joy from such a tiny creature! I couldn’t imagine what this bird might have to be joyful about. Surely if he knew the snug coziness of an electric blanket he might be singing a different tune out there on that naked tree limb.
Eventually though, his song (and the thought of a hot cup of coffee) got to me. I extricated my lazy self from the soft covers, covered my flannel jams with my warmest robe, and crossed over to raise the shade, mentally prepared for a bleak January scene.
How wrong I was.
Instead of bleakness, the world outside had transformed overnight into a pristine wonderland. Two inches of pure white blanketed everything around me, and a rather spectacular sunrise was radiating its golden orange light across the snow-covered trees and rooftops, glistening majestically as far as I could see.
And there was my soloist: a tiny brown wren with his beak pointed up to heaven, singing for all he was worth. How could he not? He cocked his head to look at me, as if to say, “See? Didn’t I tell you?” and resumed his joyful twittering.
I watched for quite some time, mesmerized. All too soon, the golden hue dissipated as the sun rose higher; leaving a scene that was still beautiful, but slightly less enchanting.
To think I would have missed that just to stay comfortable.
Then I went downstairs, where the morning had more delight in store for me. Entering the kitchen, I noticed a particularly large shadow cross the window as something flew to the birdhouse in the back yard.
Probably those darned crows, I muttered to myself. Such bullies they are.
I headed over to the sliding-glass door to thump the window pane (like that ever works). To my amazement, it wasn’t crows, but the return of our favorite winter visitors, the Pileated Woodpeckers.
Now, these guys aren’t your average woodpeckers. In fact, we’ve named them Terry and Dactyl, if that tells you anything. They are so large, even the crows give them wide berth. According to our bird manual, the Pileated Woodpecker can grow to about 17-inches long. They also have a deep red crest. I could watch one for hours.
The thing is, they never stick around long, and they’re early risers so we don’t catch a glimpse of them often. If I’d stayed in bed, I would have missed this as well.
How many of us live our lives like that? Chosing comfortable, safe, and familiar over the unknown, wondering what’s “out there” but not curious or brave enough to go look for ourselves? What do you suppose we’re missing?
At my office, I work with quite a few brilliant people who sit in their familiar cubicles day after day performing mundane tasks, all the while saying there must be a better way and purposefully ignoring the “I wonder ifs” hovering overhead:
- I wonder if I could make it as a professional photographer.
- I wonder what it would take to start my own brewery.
- I wonder if I’ll ever go to law school.
- I wonder if I should homeschool my child.
I know this, because they do occasionally talk about their dreams, and because I do the same thing. For the past ten years, I’ve been talking about leaving my job to write full-time, but the office paycheck is steady and my coworkers are great people. It’s comfortable.
But change is waiting for me, like the wren outside my window, singing, beckoning.
The time has come to throw off the cozy blankets. Can I do it this time?
…I’ll let you know next Saturday.