What’s that? I ask. Don barely looks up from his newspaper as he answers. “I don’t know. This house is making all kinds of noise lately.” Sunday mornings are normally quiet. The rustle of newspaper pages and a gurgling coffee pot are the only sounds we hear. On this Sunday morning, an unfamiliar knocking grabs my attention. Now it is in rapid succession
It’s coming from the family room. There at the window a robin pecks at its own reflection. It continues the rest of the day.
On Monday morning, I read suggestions on Google of how to rid us of this rude robin. People have tried a variety of cures. Most don’t work. I decide to try this one. I print three large black shapes of hawks and tape them on the window.
The pecking stops.
Our bird visitor is gone by late morning. Yet, I am still think about him. I love lessons from nature. What a metaphor. How do we mistake an image for who we are?
I discover more parallels between myself and a confused robin when I read about the problem on the Annenberg Website.
When a territorial robin sees its reflection it becomes agitated, raises head feathers, and assumes a dominant posture. The reflection does the same thing which increases the robin’s reaction. A battle to protect its offspring ensues.
“No matter how aggressive the real robin gets, and no matter how hard it fights, the reflection matches it. But the whole time the robin is fighting its reflection, it is NOT doing the things that will really ensure its babies’ survival. It needs to eat, sing (if it’s a male), build a nest, incubate eggs (if it’s a female), and chase REAL robins away.” (https://learner.org/)
Feelings of unworthiness and beliefs that my writing isn’t good enough or I am just not smart enough means that a negative self-image has captured my attention. These old judgments can ensnare me. Like the tortured robin, I stop seeing who I really am. It is this mistaken identity that lets us believe we are the image rather than our authentic selves
First, I need to notice what’s happening. Then I need to take a sacred pause.
One of the best ways to interrupt downward spiraling thought is to use this process named R.A.I.N. It was coined by meditation teacher Michele McDonald and popularized by Tara Brach. Tara explains the process in this short video
R – Recognize (Pause)
A – Allow (Let what you are experiencing be there)
I – Investigate with curiosity (What is going on inside of me?)
N – Nourish (Treat yourself with compassion)
Our raucous robin did not have the advantage of stepping back to observe its folly. My image of the hawk broke the trance that drove its window pecking. I can make other choices. Sometimes I must fly at the proverbial window for a while before I realize what’s happening. When my head begins to ache, and I feel worse about myself, I eventually remember to stop.
Then I recall what I said in Unfolding; “We don’t become a perfect rendition but an authentic expression of ourselves. We are called to celebrate our eccentric, less than perfect, human selves.”
The Robin has a lesson for each of us: Make sure you are really seeing you.
Photo Credit: William H. Majoros Creative Commons