I’ve been around long enough to know that birds are a sign, a signal that something significant is just around the next corner of my life.
Since in most cultures, birds signify freedom, the birds that show up in my life are usually a sign of something creative and good, something that will push me beyond my comfort zone to find the next version of myself or the next phase of my work.
One of the first times I started making the connections between birds and changes in my life was in Sisters, Oregon. I was there for a writing residency on Blue Lake at the Caldera artists community. I was alone in an A-frame cabin in the mountains to finish work on a new play. It didn’t take long for me to start a routine for the month I would be there and dive right in. My body was still on East Coast time, so I took a day to sleep and adjust.
That first night, I found myself waking at three in the morning. I was used to being up at six, so my body was not really trying to conform. By the third day, as I was shifting into a routine for the new time zone, a blue bird appeared on my deck out back. I do not know if it was the same blue bird who showed up every day, but I do know that the writing did not start pouring from me until the bird showed up. The bird was faithful and came every day for the entire month. I saw it as the muses giving permission for the words to come. Back home in busy Atlanta, I had been too distracted to pay attention to my own voice. Once it was silent, me with myself in those mountains, a different story than I had intended started to pour out of me.
This January, I was in Maryland to help my brother move. I got to meet and hang out with some of his friends, and when we all needed a break from the boxes and some food, three of us left to go pick up pizza. About a quarter of a mile away from my brother’s house, we passed the yard that made us all stare. Birds were scattered all over the the front yard.
The other two people with me immediately started speculating about what the birds might mean about the people in the house. Clearly, it was an omen to them that they should be afraid of something. It was just the opposite to me. And when I saw birds again later, after I had returned to North Carolina and was walking in my own neighborhood, I knew the Universe was speaking to me. Change or freedom was coming in some big way, and I needed to hang on for the ride I would be taking soon.
I can tell you now that this was first creative change announcing itself in my life, telling me to move out of my own way to make room for new works. Change was also hanging its sign out for business. I took on two new freelance clients the same week and learned in a matter of days what I want, and don’t want, in terms of new projects. Finally, change was personal. I was learning how to fight better with my spouse (because we all do it) and how to fight smarter for my good moments.
I always honor birds when they arrive in my world. I know, though, that birds are merely a symbol. When they come, something that was probably in my line of sight all along finally gets my attention.