Sometimes I think that perhaps the one thing we are meant to achieve in this life is truly knowing ourselves…
When I was young, maybe five or six, my dad found a robin’s nest up in the rafters of our second story deck. I remember the way he ushered me over to see it (“Shh! Come here! Come here!”) I can still see the index finger he put to his lips, as if he were about to intimate a secret to me. Together, with my sister, we peered through one of the wood slats by some built-in benches, just on the other side of our screened-in porch, and I saw them: four bright turquoise eggs.
Over the coming weeks, I sneaked quiet peeks of those tiny hatchlings. I watched them feed and grow. Listened to them chirping. And over the years, past their departure from the nest, I began to have flying dreams. Ones where I would take bounding leaps off of our deck and soar over the small patch of woods and neighboring homes in our cul-de-sac.
Those dreams stayed with me well into my teenage years. They were an expression of my joie de vivre. And they embedded themselves in my waking moments, too. In my love of being airborne. They were a constant thread in my day-to-day: my enthusiasm, my passion for seeking things out. For hushed, awestruck discovery. Those dreams truly took on a life of their own. So much so, that I never connected the dots… I never put two and two together that my unconscious takeoffs occured in the very same spot where I watched those baby birds hatch and learn to fly.
…That is… until I wrote about it.
It took a year-long inquest for me to realize all the many pieces of my life’s puzzle that lay there, waiting patiently for me to piece them together. Letter by letter. Line by line. Chapter by chapter. And piece them together, I did. I answered the single question (both so simple and yet so involved) that pervaded all my childhood wonderings. The monosyllabic inquiry that plagued my parents’ and grandparents’ ears, with my own incessant peeping―”Why? …Why? …but …Why?”
As it turns out, my insatiable desire to know everything―to get to the deepest bottom of my burning questions about myself and the world around me―culminated in a book. One about the people and events and ever-so-nebulous dreams and ideas that molded me into the person that I am today. And now, I’m excited to share with you that I (finally!) finished the manuscript. And much like a baby bird, preparing to take its first terrifying leap from the nest, I’ll be sending it off into the universe, hoping it catches some wind beneath its wings.
But in the meantime, I’ll be starting on my second book…! (Yes there will be a #2… and likely a #3… maybe a #4 even!) Because, for me, it all comes back to wanting to know myself and the world in which I live and think and breathe… and to share that sense of knowing with people who want to find a piece of themselves in my work a little bit, too.
The ever-wise Lao Tzu had shared some reflections of his on the matter. He said:
Watch your thoughts;
They become words.
Watch your words;
They become actions.
Watch your actions;
They become habits.
Watch your habits;
They become character.
Watch your character;
It becomes your destiny.
…”Watch” (not as in “be careful of” but) as in… Look. Observe. Find awe in the perfect cascade of goings-on in your mind and throughout your life that lead you right back to the person you were born to become.
On the eve of my 30th birthday (that last numerical frontier into today’s realm of official “adulthood”, it seems) I’ll be doing just that. I’ll be watching.
…I’ll be watching―for the first time in more than twenty years―four more baby robins hatch beneath my own deck. I’ll be watching that brazen and foolhardy red-breasted mama-bird continue to defend her territory against (and absolutely terrorize) my husband and me, and our all-too-curious pup. And I’ll be watching myself and my surroundings as I enter into this new decade… rung in by nothing other than the very same joys that started my journey in the first place.
So yes, I’ll certainly be watching my thoughts.
And, of course, I’ll be writing them, too. 🙂