I have just woken up for the third time because of huge winds making a racket in the trees outside my window. It is 6 am and now that there is some light I can go into the garden to see what damage may have occurred with the wind. I’m sure the garden furniture will have been tossed around.
Suddenly I realise that it is unusually quiet. The birds are few but there are a couple of courageous magpies trying to get the dawn chorus happening. Where do all the little birds go when there is a big blow? Where do the bigger ones like magpies go too? Maybe close to the ground since the tops of the trees are waving around too much. Birds cannot fly in such a storm but they clearly survived to sing again this morning. Is that where the expression ‘going to ground’ came from?
It is staggering to contemplate the amount of courage it takes to find a safe place when you are bird, not able to carry your young, not able to move around by flying. Even eagles cannot take their young to a safe place and eagles’ eyries are always high up where the wind is really severe. The trust factor in Mother Nature must be really high.
Humans are the only ones who panic when things are tough. If we could only trust that it will all work out OK. After the floods and fires I am sure there will be lots who disagree with me about trusting Nature. But in those extreme conditions we still have to do all we can and trust for the rest.
Maybe we can take a leaf out of the birds’ book of survival. Going down to the ground, lying low while the fuss is happening, being quiet while the storm lasts, then re-emerge to sing again. Possessions are what make our lives comfortable but they are no use when you are running away from storms or trouble. Look at the long lines of refugees in Somalia, starving but walking to find food and shelter. However attached you are to your mother’s furniture it simply has no survival value.
The Buddhists have always said that we should not get attached to ‘things’ as they are useless burdens and responsibilities that come between us and true happiness. Like the birds we need to have the courage to face the storm in a quiet place and rebuild our lives day after day. Thoreau said ‘Most men lead lives of quiet desperation’. Those who rebuild their lives day after day and still find a way to sing in the morning, like the flood and fire survivors, deserve our respect. We need to have the same courage just in our ordinary lives and we need to realise that others too have to find courage when things are tough.
As we face another surge in the Global Financial Crisis, take hint from the birds. Trust, act carefully, and all will be well tomorrow after the storm has passed.