Brighter Things is Steven Jackson, an Alabama-based songwriter making music and words fit together so life might make more sense.  Music released here, free, weekly-ish. Sign up to get notifications of new songs & videos.

Birds Have Shit Figured Out

Birds Have Shit Figured Out

Birds have shit figured out. They sing and travel. If it’s cold, go where it’s warm. Too hot? Fly north, idiots. And they’ve been building modest homes from reclaimed, repurposed, upcycled materials since the beginning of time. (All of them do this. It’s not just a new hobby for hipster beardy-faced birds).

But I’ve gotten to know this bird who never migrates. He’s there every morning, perched on an ugly power line that is at the top of my otherwise lovely view from the front porch. I was sure he was old, sad and too tired to fly with the flock.

Maybe I was projecting. I’d sit every morning on that front porch having tea before work and trying to make sense of things. I was 40, depressed, anxious, skin-and-bones and trying to figure out why I couldn’t fly any more. Why I never sing. Why I was just too tired to do what it seemed like the rest of the world had the energy to do.

It was a lot of pressure for me to watch joggers pass by, smiling through their sixth mile. Maybe my friend felt the same way about the little showoffs starting their flights to South America ahead of the tiny bit of cold that might hit Alabama.

Either way, we were both here for breakfast. And that was good.

It wasn’t until weeks into this ritual that I realized this plain brown bird (clearly, I’m no ornithologist) was making the same sounds every morning. And it wasn’t ’til I went in late to work one day that I saw that those sounds culminated in the arrival of his friend. I tested this a few more times and it was like clockwork. 8:06 AM was the magic moment for these two love birds to reunite.

He stayed in this one place not wishing to see new horizons or wishing he was in V-formation. He’d already found his place. There was no time for wasting on long trips or rebuilding seasonal palaces in the trees. There was love to be had, melodies to be tweeted and retweeted. The air would get chilly, but what an excuse to hunker down with the ones you love.

It took the pressure off. If birds are so damn smart (being predictably early for worms and such), and this one chooses to study me – a sad, quiet creature full of tea, bacon and waffles – maybe we were meant to learn something from each other.

He sings. I try to answer with a warbly whistle. I know his song isn’t for me, but I am lifted just knowing we have in the common the strength it takes to be still, the resilience to accept where we are right now, and the wisdom to know that keeping warm with the ones you love is more than enough. And we get to sing. Not for praise and adoration, but to offer a song to the wind so that other strugglers might find their way back to the nest.

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Death of a Family Trait

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