Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Pecking order

My birdfeeder was a success! The green plastic thing dangling in the balcony of my Tulsa apartment never failed: my balcony was now the place for what felt like all the sparrows of the world. The tube birdfeeder would sway side to side as my famished feathered friends would ferociously flap their wings around it while in flight for the choicest feeding locations.

And boy, were they aggressive! Sometimes they'd shake the birdfeeder so hard that some of the birdseed would sprinkle onto the wooden-planked balcony floor (and I'm sorry to say, between the planks and into the balcony underneath - guilty as charged). The sparrows, sometimes a single Red Cardinal (sheer delight!), would be so focussed on their task, they wouldn't even notice my observing them from behind my huge window just a foot away. If they weren't directly eating from the birdfeeder, they were on the ground, pecking away at the secondhand spoils from the war above.

Spoils of war?

I took another look at the big picture. The most aggressive birds were up there, defending their feeding space, going for the jugular, taking their pick directly from the fresh stock of birdseed. And then there were the birds on the floor, quietly pecking away at the scant half-eaten leftovers of the other birds, trading quality and quantity for safety. And there were more birds on the ground than there were up by the birdfeeder.

It struck me. That's the law of the jungle, the law of life, the real secret you only hear about in motivational quotations or inspirational movies. To really possess your goal in its most unadulterated and abundant form, you have to get out and take it. You absolutely must make that effort. If you never bust out of your comfort zone, if you never put yourself out there, if you don't hold onto that ride, then you'll only be in the way of those who do. You'll never get a piece of that action, and you'll have to be content with life's leftovers. And the tragic thing is that it wouldn't have had to turn out that way.

Now that really is for the birds.

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