A story about life, covid and feathered messengers.
FUNK- I was mired in a Covid funk. Not a dark dreadful depression, unable to rise from bed but more a Jane Austin-esque melancholia, taken to wandering waif like around the house, restless. Quite unwilling and unable to settle at a task and prone to outbursts of sighing, followed by more waif like wandering. A ghost unable to find rest.
Just 4 weeks earlier I had storytelling work, preschools, weddings and storytelling nights as well as other exciting projects lined up- a full length performance with musician, a collaborations with another teller and an international conference to organize, more than enough to keep me occupied as my husband travelled back to Sweden for an indefinite stay with his family.
Then Covid came…. the work, the projects evaporated, sigh. And then my husband was going, wasn’t going, was going, wasn’t going, was going wasn’t going.. then he went. Sigh FUNK
Of course, I knew many people were far worse off than me. I had a roof over my head, food to eat, government benefits… yet sigh, FUNKED I felt. The only thing that relieved my funk was anger. A battle raged within.
“Write something!”, “sigh no”
“Practice something!”, “sigh no”
Perform something on line!” “sigh no”
“DO ANYTHING!!!” “sigh, it’s all too hard” FUNKED
Funk and anger, anger and funk
Finally, one day, anger took me in hand for a brisk walk, determined to force funk from my body. I can’t say that I was enjoying the walk for it felt like a doomed enforced march. As I strode past the lantana tangled mangroves that bordered the sports field, a flash of blue brought caught my eye.
An electric blue male Fairy Wren, he popped his head of the bush out and gave me a proper chiding “peep peep peep”. Then his small mouse brown mate appeared, and she flicked her tail at me with such attitude. I stood astounded. What brave hearts they were to accost a woman mired in funk. Captivated, I watched and listened. Their peeps came to me Consider the birds of the air…
So I considered the birds, these birds. I considered the size of their brave hearts, the dimensions of the veins and arteries that carried the blood to their hearts, so impossibly small, and yet so perfect. My own heart marveled and warmed in response, and for a few hours my covid funk took flight
Alas, at home, Funk’s icy fingers closed around my heart once more;
“Will I work again, won't I work again”’
“Will Ulf come home, won't Ulf come home” And then Anger kicked in,
Write something!” “sigh, no”.
“Practice something!” “sigh, no”.
Perform something on line!” “sigh, no”.
“DO ANYTHING!!!” “sigh but it’s all too hard, sigh” FUNKED
Another day, another forced march day, this day not one pair but two pairs of fairy wrens accosted me They darted across my path, to sit in the bushes either side and admonish... “Peep Peep Consider the birds of the air…”. Quick as they appeared, they disappeared back into the bushes… not before leaving me with a warm heart and the memory of a folktale, the King of the Birds.
“Once, long, long ago, the birds of the earth decided that they should appoint a King, a bird to rule over all of them. But who to choose, how to choose?
“The largest” suggested the ostrich, “the wisest” offered the owl, “the loudest” laughed the kookaburra, “the most lovely voice” sung the nightingale, “the most beautiful” preened the peacock, “the most prolific” twittered thousands of sparrows. After much squawking, squeaking, peeping, twittering, trilling, ringing and cooing calling, cackling and warbling, they decided that the bird which flew the highest and closest to the sun, should be King.
The birds took to the air on mass, fluttering, flapping, flying up and up. Humming, whirring, whooping, higher and higher above the earth they flew, like a floating ceiling. Then, one by one, the smallest first, began to drop away, they could go no higher. One by one they gathered on the ground necks craned as they watched the sky till only the eagle flew, the long slow powerful beats of his wings propelled him higher and higher, closer and closer to the sun. The birds watched in awe. At last the eagle could climb no higher when, from under the eagle’s feathers leapt a wren.
A tiny wren, that spent its life hiding in the bushes and scrub, never daring to leave the protective brambles, leapt into the air above the eagle and bathed in the sun’s radiance, “Peep Peep Peep”
None were more surprised than the eagle himself. The wren had taken an enormous risk, he had trusted that the eagle, as an emissary of spirit would not eat him to hide his defeat. The eagle, in turn, recognised the wren’s cleverness and bravery.
The two birds thoroughly spent, flew back to the earth, the eagle taking care to keep below the wren to catch him should he falter. Exhausted the eagle and the little wren landed and before all the great winged gathering, Eagle declared wren to be king of the birds.
Funny that the story should pop into my head, it’s not a story that I have ever told. Consider the birds of the air.
Hmmm, were the birds trying to tell me something?
I was happy to walk the next day and as I did, I listened to a podcast about the ancient Chinese poet Cold Mountain. Along the walk I was met by not one, not two but 4 pairs of fairy wrens, “PEEP PEEP PEEP”. I said “I am, I am considering the birds of the air” and they bopped and nodded in approval. As I headed across the empty oval, I thought, if the birds are really bringing me messages then surely, they would have pooped on my head by now?
My podcast in my ear launched into a poem recital;
“a thousand sparrows descend on my empty courtyard, they swarm around me, trying to murder me with their racket"
At that moment a thousand crazy correllas descended on my empty oval, they swarmed around me, deafening me with their racket, then something heavy and warm hit my head. Bird funk. I look over to the lantana and the assembles wrens were peeping their little heads off in glee.
Their message now as plain as the poop in my hair.
Consider the birds of the air, for they neither sow, nor reap nor gather into barns. They trust their needs will be met.
The little wren who spent most of his life close in the protective scrub feeling small, courageously trusted in the eagle, the emissary of spirit, and became king
All that was needed was a brave heart and trust in the spirit of life. Yes, I had a roof over my head, there was food on the table, for now that was enough. If covid kept my husband and I apart for some time, I would still be alright, more than alright, everything was going to be fine.
I arrived home to find two rainbow lorikeets making love on my verandah. Ha! Perhaps Ulf and I will be together sooner I expected, happy "sigh”
A heart to heart blog on life, spirituality, storytelling & stories.