Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Hummingbird Approach

My porch is like a sanctuary for me. During the day it serves as my office, motivating me to continue pushing on when I dread the very idea. Splashes from a large fountain shoot twenty feet into the air and gush back into the surface of the pond below my balcony. A hummingbird feeder hangs from the eaves, in my direct line of vision as I patrol the internet for content during my day shift. I observe dozens of hummingbirds fluttering in and out of my work space every day.

These birds are fodder for my imagination, incentive for my art. Upon their visits, I mentally note new and different features that I notice in these amazing little creatures. Once, when the fountain was turned off, I sat and listened to the buzz of their wings. Just feet away from me, a tiny bird made it’s presence known by the hurried flap of his feathers. It was loud and fascinating.

The birds have depleted the contents of the feeder which has been empty for a couple of weeks now. But the birds are persistent, paying regular visits to the hanging attractant. I love this about them. They return daily, confident in their search of a sugary treat.

They return, because if they don’t, they won’t get to partake in the sweetness they set out for. But their chance increases immensely if they at least come to check it out. Here’s my favorite part: when they approach their destination, they hover (rarely do they use the perch) over one of the four spigots. They test it by inserting their beak, only to find it dry as a bone. Instead of fluttering away, though, they rotate around each of the spigots in a clockwise manner, hovering briefly in front of each one to see if they find different results. They spend less time at each spigot, like they’re picking up on a pattern. After all that, they will dart off in search of another potential source.

I couldn’t help but make the distinction that I am all-too-often unlike the hummingbird. If I run into a closed opportunity, I’m not likely to check back into it. Rarely, do I look at seeming closed opportunities from every angle with the mindset, “maybe if I look at it this way.....” Nope. I like to give up and think to myself, “It’s a dead-end road.” I tend to view the situation as hopeless.

The problem with this outlook is that we will eventually lead ourselves down a dead-end road, by means of a self-fulfilling prophecy. If we assume that there’s no opportunity, thus relinquishing the search for one, we will never find it.

It’s fair to suggest that we shouldn’t waste our time on things we know aren’t going to create an outcome. It would be foolish to hover over the feeder, simply waiting on the possibility. But it doesn’t hurt to check in from time to time.

I plan on filling the feeder again. I don’t know when I’ll get around to it. But it will happen. And when it does, the frequent visits from my friends will have paid off. They have no idea what’s in store for them.

Have you given up on a particular area of your life? Are you like the hummingbird, are you quick to retreat, like me? What else can we learn from the hummingbird approach?

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