Updated: May 16, 2020
I found myself questioning nature last week. We found a fledging pigeon out of the nest and hiding on our balcony in the rain. Its parents were close by and keeping an eye out for their chick.
Even though I saw all this, I became caught up in the idea that I needed to get it back in its nest. It was down to me to save the young bird and, if I didn’t, it would be eaten by a cat, a fox or die of cold. I had decided that the bird would not survive without my intervention. Fact. (Even though we don’t have any cats or foxes in our garden, nor was it cold – it was just a bit wet).
I sleep very well but that night I had a bad night’s sleep and kept waking up worrying about the chick. So, in the morning, without doing any research (that would have been sensible), I decided that the bird needed rescuing. After asking my stepson to put a ladder up to reach the nest, I started trying to catch the pigeon with a big white sheet. My husband kept telling me it wasn’t a good idea and I only listened when he accused me of traumatising the poor thing.
The result was that I’d chased the bird round the back of the shed and its parents no longer knew where it was. I was still caught up in my head and had a second night fretting that I had caused the birds to be separated and that it would definitely not get through this night.
The next day I watched the parents searching the garden, but they didn’t seem to know their chick was now behind the shed. At last, the parents found it and I was flooded with relief. I had since looked up the situation on the internet and it clearly said to leave the bird alone. Don’t meddle. The parents know what they are doing. So true.
As things quietened for me, I checked in on what had happened. I had clearly got caught up in the situation, believing that only I could resolve it (not true), that I had known the next steps to take (so not true) and that I was certain the bird wouldn’t last the night (totally untrue; it survived both nights and is happily flying around now).
I believed the situation I had created in my own head so completely that I had two nights of broken sleep, with the feelings of guilt and worry circling around. Why hadn’t I listened to my husband? Why hadn’t I checked the internet first? Why had I meddled … again?!
This is a natural response to events in our lives. We can easily get caught up in a busy headspace, being sure that we know what to do next. But a busy headspace is not the time to make a decision – it’s the time to know not to make that decision.
I had bought into my thinking so much that I went to bed feeling shame, guilt and worry. I had forgotten that feelings only serve to point us to what we are thinking about in that moment. Feelings do not know anything about pigeons, foxes, rain or nests. Feelings don’t know about repeated meddling or even about sleepless nights.
These feelings I experienced in the night were good for one thing and one thing only: they pointed me to my busy headspace; the thought-storms swirling around. There is nothing wrong with being in a busy headspace – its normal for us all.
It’s also helpful to know that it not a good time to decide what to do next. As soon as we can see that for ourselves, we drop into a more insightful, quieter space and it is from here that we can see the options available to us.
This is available to all of us, all the time.