Healing: Bird by Bird

“Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report written on birds that he’d had three months to write, which was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books about birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.” –Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird

This quote by Anne Lamott came to mind while I was in midst of profound thoughts. I’ve been thinking often and becoming increasingly sentimental, especially today, which marks a month until I leave for school in a different state. Things are changing at such a pace that with every breath I take I seem to be faced with the unbearable reality that my life is progressing around me rather than with me. I thought of this quote, and I said to myself, “Sara, one of your favorite authors wants you to take it bird by bird, day by day, step by step. Stop doing this to yourself, sweetheart.”

Sometimes telling yourself to do something is a lot easier than actually doing it.

I’m not going to lie, drizzle some honey, or spritz what actually happened with a flowery perfume—I had a complete mental breakdown. If Anne Lamott’s words ringing true in my memory couldn’t help me, then what possibly could? Then I cried.

However, I decided to dig deeper, and I came to a bright, shimmering, discovery: my “bird by bird” was going to be tasting the little beauties of each day instead of swallowing each day whole. I said to myself, “This month, this life…you savor.” Suddenly, my life fell into place again; I noticed so many noteworthy things today.

My skirt being moved by the wind. The geometric shape of a single light in a movie theater. Families scooting to a showing, hand in hand and giggling with excitement. A pasta salad with all the colors of the rainbow. A “Good afternoon” from a man walking down the street. Opening a new book. Just a plethora of little perfect moments. Perfects moments that have been trying to get my attention while I was lost in my mind, anticipating and planning. Perfect moments ignored by my overwhelming obsession with possibility and “what if’s”. I didn’t realize that the gorgeous, itsy-bitsy details of life needed my care in order for me to care for myself and allow my soul an inner peace.

Too often do we cocoon ourselves in worry, focusing on what could go wrong, our past, what have you. We’re scared, and though there’s nothing wrong with that (we wouldn’t be human if we did not fear), if we burst from that cocoon of negative energy we create for ourselves and see how much joy there is in living for the little gifts of NOW, we’re suddenly free as a butterflies! *cue the cascading glitter and rainbow in the distance*

Really, though. You are beautiful, you are fragile. Nurture your precious soul by teaching it, not just how to look, but how to see. Que será, será. Let go of the idea that you can somehow control your life. Instead, let the sunshine tickle your nose and spread all the way down your fingertips, appreciate the sound of people laughing, indulge in the effortless movement of the world…take it beauty by beauty, bird by bird.

By Sara Coito

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