Overwhelm and the Little Bird

The little bird sat on a branch heavy-hearted. Around him lay pieces of the nest he was trying to build, the scattered remains of what he wanted to create. Everywhere he looked he saw broken sticks and misshapen crumbling sides: hard evidence pointing to his failure. A tear rolled down his face.

A passing pademelon saw him and stopped to ask, “What’s wrong little bird? Why are you crying?”

The little bird sighed and in a choked voice said, “I’m overwhelmed. I can’t do it. There’s too much to do. I don’t know where to start.”

The pademelon said, “But you can do it, little bird.”

“No I can’t.” the little bird said. “I’m failing. I shouldn’t be finding this a problem. Why is it so hard for me? Look at all those other birds doing it. I’m just not good enough.”

“You can do it.” The pademelon said again, gently.

The little bird cried, “But they’re not struggling! They don’t have a problem! There’s something wrong with me. I can’t do this.”

“Look, little bird. Look at them. Use your eyes.”

And the little bird looked. All he saw were finished nests, comfortable homes lined with soft moss and grasses ready to be used for the purpose they were created for. Some of the nests he saw were completed and inhabited. He caught glimpses of Mama birds nesting in new homes. In others, young chicks crying for food with their mouths wide open pink, alive and noisy.

“It’s too much, I can’t do it. They’re too far ahead of me, I’ll never be good enough to make these pieces stay together. I just can’t do it.” the little bird whispered with his head down.

And the pademelon said, “Look again little bird. What do you see? Use your mind. Look closer.”

And the little bird looked. Not at what was in the nest. Not at the finished designs or the way they came together but at the parts of each nest. He saw how every one was slightly different. This one had string woven in. This one used grandfather’s beard. There was a piece of blue plastic threaded in that one. The next used leaves to dramatic effect. No two patterns of weaving were the same. There were various sizes and shapes too, some more the traditional round shape, others oval or uneven and built up on one side. Some were built close to the main trunk of the trees in obvious nooks, centred, others were way out on the edge, resting on delicate limbs that looked too fine to hold the weight of a nest let alone the family that lived there. Some were empty, abandoned homes left to decay, fall and return to the earth in their own time.

The little bird said, “They’re all different.”

“And what else do you see?” the pademelon asked.

The little bird looked and looked. After a time, he saw something new. “The tree still holds them all.”

Mira Chorik. 2015.