Saturday, November 1, 2008

"bird by bird..."


After sending the last of my four sons off to college, I had decided to return to complete my BA/MA at a university in New York. It had been a lifelong dream deferred. Scholarships, loans, and schedules were set in place. Three days before classes commenced, I had a brain hemorrhage requiring hospitalization. All plans were on hold. Two months after the first episode, I was rushed back to the hospital for emergency brain surgery. Confined to the critical care unit for brain trauma, I had lots of time to think. Do we need a near death experience to remind us to affirm our reverence for each day of our lives? Anne Lamott’s book came to mind. The title, "bird by bird, Some Instructions on Writing and Life", resulted from a discussion between the author’s father and her ten year old brother. Her brother was struggling with a school report on birds that he had been given three months to write. As he sat at the table surrounded by books and papers, overwhelmed by the project that he hadn’t even begun, he asked his father’s advice. Putting his arm around his son, Anne’s father said, “Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.”Although her book is a manual for writers, at once hilarious and heartbreaking, it offers simple advice on how to live, how to pay attention. I thought about how everything we do matters. We need to be present, mindful, and, most of all, grateful. I refuse to be defined by this experience, I will learn from it, get well again and realize my dreams, “bird by bird”.

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