I posted this to my other page the other day- and I had no idea how, a couple nights later, it’d come into full play.
I don’t really know how or when it happened. I know that at some point
along the way in my life, the hummingbird- specifically, the ruby
throated hummingbird became symbolic of hope to me.
when I was little, my grandmother used to feed them on the front porch.
One day, one of them got into the house- which isn’t all that unusual,
you feed birds close to a door and at some point- you will have birds
either hit that door or fly into it and it did. I know that little bird
must have been scared out of its mind- I mean, can you imagine?
Fluttering around an alien land of giants- with one hot on your heels
(Do birds have heels? I don’t think they do) hollering to beat the man.
I remember those moments pretty well because I remember watching this
tiny little bird, flop, scoot and dart as hard as it could, around
furniture to get away. My grandmother was freaking out, because that’s
what she does and well, I know she genuinely didn’t want this beautiful
little bird to hurt itself. (They can’t actually walk or even jump- they
just sort of scoot sideways.)
Me, I’m a little pigtailed
hillbilly, standing on the other side of the room in my bare feet-
watching like I’d done any other wild life in the surrounding woods.
People ask me about my knack with wild life all the time, but I knew
then as well as I do now: if you want it, you must be still. Sure
enough, the little bird wound up at my feet, nestled between my dirty
I bent down, gently placed my hands close by and felt this tiny
life just scoot into my hands. Its tiny heart beat so fast- of course,
it had no way of knowing my grandmother would never hurt it, but all her
freaking out had scared it on top of being terrified of the odd
I took it outside, it zipped up and off- parts
unknown. If you’ve ever seen a much larger bird at a hummingbird feeder
or near it- you probably know: they don’t particularly back down in
terror. Far from it. Their small size is never, ever something they seem
all that aware of. To watch them go from feeder to wherever it is that
they do is to see faith in motion- leap and dart- perhaps faith in the
wind, but more faith in the wings that carry them.
long after that I was sitting in church and the pastor quoted a verse:
Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor
gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not
much better than they?
And the first thing that hit me was my
grandmother just losing her marbles over this and many other things: and
the way that little bird had simply went from my hands to the air, the
way it had nestled against my feet and in my hands- calm, knowing,
somehow that I wasn’t going to hurt it, knowing I’d set it free. Are we
better than they? I remember thinking, and I started to giggle. My aunt
squeezed my hand hard, like she’d do when I’d cut up at church. Gentle
reminder, this hand is also capable of a swat to the butt that you won’t
like. (I’m kind of giggling as I remember all the times I’d gotten “the
squeeze”. Happened quite a lot.)
People often question my fire,
my “backbone”, and people also often imagine that I am dark. I am jaded.
The complete opposite is true. Were I dark, were I jaded, there would
be no reason to fight. No reason to cry out. No reason to stand. It is
hope, it is knowing, that fills you when you square off on much bigger
things. It is a vibrant, alive thing- but it is a small thing, too. A
quiet thing. A buzzed whisper on the wind, at times, a bright little
Far from being inexhaustible, it must be fed. Fed a lot so that it can fly.
Every so often, I get lit up with an idea and for me, this is a very weird place, emotionally.
I think that while everybody adores an inspirational story of victory: they tend to be a little bit reluctant to believe that can happen in their lives. I have seen this time and time again- because, well, you spend any amount of time around those who’ve been poor for generations, you’ll see it. We love the underdog, but no one can imagine themselves ever being the underdog that comes out on top or changes that narrative.
I have been doing this since I was a kid. Lived through meningitis. Lived through getting hit by a truck. Could tell you story upon story of weird situations where the odds were just nuts: and somehow, things managed to turn out. How?
Let you in on a secret- it isn’t being willing to accept things as they are. It isn’t in giving up. It isn’t in becoming complacent or adopting mentalities that somehow make the journey more convenient or less frustrating. Matter of fact- if you have this mentality: your journey will be very hard, it will be uphill in the snow, barefoot sometimes. It will be harder than anything you can imagine. It will be incredibly frustrating.
….but it’ll be more worth it than anything else. It will carry so much joy and so much meaning, that you simply come to a point you don’t know any other way to be. There will be times when the faith is in you and your ability to bob and weave- there will be other, more terrifying times when you just leap, twist, and fly through the air- not knowing where or how you’ll land, but mentally planning what you’ll do when you get there as best you can.
Over time I have had so many people admire this in me- and it’s kind of heartening, but at the same time, it’s hard. I cannot tell you how many times I have frustratedly screamed:
Oh my god, yes, yes you can! Stop telling yourself you can’t! You can!
How do you know you can’t? Why?
They call this thing in me a gift: discernment. There are times when it’s the most heartbreaking thing I have ever known. To see the best in people, always. To see the potential in people, always. You punch yourself in the heart- you spill it all out to try to motivate people: but people cannot always be motivated. People are not always at a place where they are ready. Some have been down so long, they know of no other way to be- and even though you may see the light in them: they themselves, cannot.
Failure has never broken my heart. It never could. Failure is a speedbump. It’s a roadblock that makes you detour and find other paths.
I got to see that same face. Man, I know that face well.
“Victoria, that’s not realistic.”
“Kurt, it’s not like I’m talking about riding a unicorn into Narnia, here. It’s just a dream with some work to it- look at the numbers. It is TOO realistic, it just involves hard work and being ready to risk it.”
I have always been ready to risk it. Didn’t ever particularly matter what “it” was. That whole “beat meningitis” thing? I was nine. I died. My experience wasn’t something I’ve seen on specials about Near Death Experiences- and it forever changed me. Risking it? It’s never quite had anything on that. I grew up with a fairly profound reality about life and death. Over in an instant. Temporary. You get what you got- and what happens after? Well, what happens after? Now is a gift. Our heart, our soul, our passion, and our willingness to take risks and strive: it’s a gift. And well, fact is, once you’ve beaten that, once you’ve seen where The Big Giant Fear Of Everyone goes?
It tends to give way to an understanding- or, at least, it did with me: we have heaven and hell right here in our heads. How it comes out in your life is really very much all in how you allow it to.
I view very little as coincidence, because each and every encounter I have had from that time on wasn’t guaranteed. Matter of fact, I live my life all too keenly aware of how in each encounter I have with anyone is me beating the odds- because I’m not supposed to even be alive.
But you know what?
I am. And as long as I’m breathing, I will continue to take risks, I will continue to strive for better because no matter how weird or unexpected things have been: I am still here. Kicking and screaming into hope, fighting and running, and continuing to appreciate now.
Sometimes people are sorry for me when I land on my butt.
That’s okay. I’m sorry for you because you never jumped in the first place.