Come to think of it, the true test of the extent to which you care about someone is your ability to be happy for their happiness. For the other end of the spectrum is too easy, it is basic human instinct, empathy and compassion with the wronged or hurt. It is only natural to be sad for someone else’s sadness, to share their grief or mood, to sympathise. You find yourself rising to a better version of you because circumstances are dire and you come to the rescue of friends, acquaintances or foes.
Yet to really know if someone is of significance to you, do you find it in you to be happy simply because good things have happened to them? Does your heart soar because they received and shared good news, because they’ve accomplished something, won something? Does your mood get better? Do you laugh from the heart? Is your smile and congratulations sincere? Are you genuinely happy for them and proud of them? Then you do care my friend, for we are far more self-centred a species to normally give a damn about the happiness of the other, anything above neutral is not usually worthy of attention, nor does it usually elicit joy.
I’m this kind of girl:
– that no matter how hot it is, I am the one who has to have a cover of some kind on while I am sleeping.
– that will hear a song or an album and will download it and then will listen to it over and over again until I know every note.
– that if one lane is closing and all the drivers have had advance warning and yet others do not file to the open lane in a reasonable and timely manner but insist on racing ahead and then trying to shove in at last minute, I am the one who is a complete bitch and won’t let them in.
Sometimes a small thing happens that makes you wonder about how you handle things and just how deep the handling of them goes. It may not be something as large as suffering from a disease or losing a loved one. It can be miniscule, unexpected, and jarring to a level that you hadn’t suspected you could be jarred.
Saturday the cats were in a bit of a ruckus at the window. I looked outside and saw there was something outside that had me hooked.
I opened the door, feeling the chill of the September dusk setting in. I stepped out onto the grass to see, in all directions, heaps of feathers flying around. I knew at once what happened – a cat had pulled down a bird and had killed it. It wasn’t the first time, it wouldn’t be the last.
I walked to the largest pile of feathers and there it was – a magpie. One wing bent at an angle that a wing most certainly shouldn’t be bent. Over half of its body was plucked clean of feathers, and blood was seeping out onto the remaining feathers. A quick look told me immediately that the bird was still alive and in a state of sheer panic and terror. I didn’t need a second look to know that there was no chance that it was going to survive.
And I was torn. I couldn’t bring it in because to be brutally honest, all I can think of are parasites, mites, and disease that live on wild birds. I couldn’t leave it out here, terrified, in shock, dying. It had already been suffering via a brutal way to die. Ignoring it seemed to be the heart of cruelty.
I got an old towel to try to wrap the bird in, to try to make it more comfortable. As I came near with it, the bird jumped around in a panic, its broken wing moving uselessly in an angle that it shouldn’t have done. Anytime I got even a little near its breathing went fast, its fight-or-flight serving it well.
I decided the grass was the most comfortable place for it. I went back inside. Making the bird more frightened would serve no real purpose; it had maybe been through enough. Leaving it alone to its own devices would be the most calming solution there could be.
The cats and I kept watch over the bird, dying in the grass. We watched as it used its beak – the only working part of its body – to drag itself towards a bush nearby. I couldn’t stop watching it move itself towards the nearby bushes. It seared itself into my memory as the most grotesque and beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I watched the bird make it into the bush. It died, tucked into itself under the protection of a bush, surrounded by frost covered wheat stalks.
I can’t help but feel I missed a something. There was something more I should have done, even if just for a mangy magpie. I can’t stop feeling that there was something I should have learned from in it all, and didn’t.
There are a lot of things you’ve been learning about life.
This is what you do, you’re a ball of tape that rolls and bounces and picks it all up as you go, and from time to time you check the adhesive to see what’s on you, how it all adds up. Recent stock-taking would have you happy as you see what’s settled on the surface. Love. Security. Hope. Your crazy desire to try every new recipe. Amazing stuff really.
But sometimes the floor falls out from under you and you are not prepared enough to handle some of what comes your way.
It’s just the way it is. But, you keep going because that’s what you always do and that’s the only choice that you have.
Once upon a time the colors of the world started to quarrel.
All claimed that they were the best; the most important, the most useful, the favourite.
"Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees and leaves. Without me, all animals would die. Look over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.”
"You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is the water that is the basis of life and drawn up by the clouds from the deep sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace, you would all be nothing.”
"You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety, and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower, the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun.”
ORANGE started next to blow her trumpet:
"I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the needs of human life. I carry the most important vitamins. Think of carrots, pumpkins, oranges, mangoes, and papayas. I don’t hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.”
RED could stand it no longer, he shouted out:
"I am the ruler of all of you. I am blood – life’s blood! I bring fire into the blood. I am willing to fight for a cause. I am the color of danger and of bravery. Without me, the earth would be as empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and of love, the red rose, the poinsettia and the poppy.”
PURPLE rose up to his full height, he was very tall and spoke with great pomp:
"I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs, and bishops have always chosen me, for I am the sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me! They listen and obey.”
Finally INDIGO spoke, much more quietly than all the others, but with just as much determination:
"Think of me. I am the color of silence. You hardly notice me, but without me you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep water. You need me for balance and contrast and inner peace.”
So the colors went on boasting, each convinced of his or her own superiority. Their quarrelling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of bright lightening. Thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.
In the midst of the clamour, rain began to speak:
"You foolish colors, fighting amongst yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Don’t you know that you were each made for a special purpose, unique and different? Join hands with one another and come to me."
Doing as they were told, the colors united and joined hands.
The rain continued:
"From now on, when it rains, each of you will stretch across the sky in a great bow of color as a reminder that you can all live in peace. The Rainbow is a sign of hope for tomorrow."
And so, whenever a good rain washes the world and a Rainbow appears in the sky, let us remember to appreciate one another.