We’re doing a writing challenge this month called 29 Gifts. It is based loosely on a book I read of the same name by Cami Walker, but we’ve decided to take this on in our own way to suit the personality of our writing group.
7-11-17 – Day One – Dead Bird
Ever since I introduced the Use Your Words writing group members to the idea of the 29 Gifts project last night and challenged them to do it with me, I’ve been wondering what my gift for today would be. Cris Adams, who is participating, told me I should use the head shots I took of her as my gift, but it didn’t seem right because that was so automatic that I didn’t feel like it was a conscious gift as much as one of habit. That may be the problem I have with the entire project. Between being uncomfortable writing about any gift or kindness I engage in and just picking something I would have done subconsciously or by habit has me feeling something between guilty and arrogant. But since I got everyone into this project, I need to follow through and play by the rules, too.
We started the day learning that the offer on the house at Alameda had fallen through, so it felt like a bad way to start. Still, I tried to be chipper and cheerful as a Barbie® doll when I responded to the realtor’s phone call, and I thought maybe that would be my gift of the day because I could have gone all drama on her, I suppose. I guess I tried to receive the news with as much positivity and faith in the universe that it just wasn’t the right offer at the right time, and maybe that was my gift to myself. But a gift to myself wasn’t what I was shooting for, so I knew I had to stay open.
I spent the morning writing a difficult story on the gentleman who is our financial advisor, knowing that it is a story which will net me zero income. I toyed with the idea of that story being my day’s offering as a gift to Rob, who is patient with my stupid financial questions and my complete ignorance in all things stock market and investment. But that would have felt like a disingenuous gift, too, so I decided to keep thinking and hope the opportunity would present itself for me to actually give a gift that had meaning. I think I was hoping for a gift that no one would know about but me but that would be something very meaningful to the recipient. Since we’d been expecting the home inspector at Alameda this afternoon before learning that the house offer had been rescinded, the pool looked inviting and gorgeous. Dan and I decided to enjoy it for a few minutes, but I couldn’t calm my mind even though the water felt wonderful and the heat of the midday sun warmed me and made me relax a little. I still knew I had to come home and set up the event page for the rest of the participants. And it was not lost on me that the hours were winding down for my gift opportunity. How much would it suck to have to consider feeding the bitchy feral cat as my thoughtful gift of the day?
We were in separate cars, so when Dan headed for the feed store, I headed home. Before I even got close, I saw something moving in the road ahead of me on FFA Road, so I slowed down in case it was an injured dog or something in need of help. As I passed, I saw that it was a dead bird – not a sandhill crane, but one of those brown spotty ones that has the same kind of crane or heron legs – like a distinct prehistoric bird. It was clearly dead, but it hadn’t been there long. It’s broken left wing was still flapping in the warm breeze, and I crossed myself and started to drive on. But I couldn’t. I knew it was dead, and I knew it wasn’t in pain, but I just couldn’t leave it there on the side of the road, as if it had no value in the world at all. Before long, the turkey vultures would surely descend and begin to feast on it, leaving it unrecognizable and forgotten. I backed up my car and got out.
I decided right then that my gift would be to give this lovely bird one feather’s worth of dignity, even though it would mean doing something I did not want to do at all. I grabbed a couple of napkins from the glove compartment of my car and willed myself to stand next to the dead bird. I picked up the bird gently and carried him to a soft spot, far off the shoulder of the road and near the fence line. There, I set him gently down and said a prayer that he had died instantly and was now able to fly without fear, predator, or worry.
It’s not something anyone else will ever know about, but it was a real gift of my heart to do something which is hard and distasteful for me and do it with no expectation of gratitude or reward. When I got back in my car and put it into gear, I felt more relaxed than I have all day. I think I can do this 29 Gifts challenge, as long as I don’t force myself to get nervous or become selfish and rush the process. So now that my first day is done, I’m ready to say to the universe, “Bring it on. I’m ready to give again tomorrow, and I’ll try to let go of any inclination I may have to want to control things and instead stay open to the opportunity which calls to my soul.”