When I was 6 years old, I began begging my folks for a bird. By the time I turned 8 years old, I had my first parakeet, Perky.
Perky and I spent hours together each day – he taught me about handling and understanding birds (some days I was a better student than others) and he lived an exceptionally long and healthy life before he passed at 12 years old (apparently this is VERY old for a parakeet).
While it has never gotten any easier saying goodbye, over the years I have had many avian companions, each of which has served as mentors to me in their own unique ways.
Recently I discovered a charmingly wonderful book called “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill,“ which describes a very similar experience to my own.
While the wild parrots were clearly the focal point throughout much of the book, the true star was the author himself, who over time allowed his life to become completely transformed through his relationship to these small feathery mentors.
The author, Mark Bittner, first became familiar with the parrots while serving as a caretaker to a cottage on famous Telegraph Hill near San Francisco, CA.
The wild parrots – most survivors of the bird smuggling trade – had banded together and were roaming around a small area near the Hill foraging for food. (As a side note, I spent the mid- and late-90′s living right near San Francisco and I can’t believe I never heard of these parrots until last month!)
In an utterly spontaneous way, Mark became the first human to achieve a level of trust with the wild parrot band – so much so that they would often feed from his hand, and let him care for them when they became ill. After six years living side by side with the parrot band and becoming friendly with many individual parrots (without ever once trying to capture or tame any bird – and this is integral to the story!) Mark’s situation changed and he was inspired to write a book about his experiences.
That book became “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.”
Suffice it to say that I was RIVETED for all 277 pages, and totally bummed when it ended.
Mark’s now-wife, Judy Irving, made a documentary film by the same name that I just ordered on Netflix. (Interestingly, filming the parrots was also how Mark and Judy met and fell in love!)
But I will share one thing – probably my favorite realization from the whole book. It is this – every creature on the planet gets lonely sometimes. Every creature feels scared. Every creature fears death. And every creature longs for life – and others to share life with.
We truly are not alone in this world.
As Judy Irving says, “There is a big world out there and we are only one species. So what I like about the film – people who have seen the film – is that they get that. And they start looking around. Maybe they’re not so lonely anymore. Maybe they’re not so depressed. Because they realize they share the world with all these fabulous species and all they have to do is start looking around.”’
Want to see the wild parrots in action? CLICK HERE or on the image below
Today’s Takeaway: If you catch yourself feeling particularly lonely or down on a certain day, perhaps try just opening your eyes up a little wider than usual, looking around, observing the natural world at work and at play all around you, and see if this helps ease your pain. Even better, find a volunteer activity or adopt a pet so you can give what you long to receive – love, support, connection – to another struggling soul.
Cutts, S. (2012). Feathery Mentors. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 14, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mentoring-recovery/2012/06/feathery-mentors/