There is fine thin line between compassion and co-dependence. At least in my mind. Maybe if I had a panel of psychologist, therapist, psychiatrists, spiritual gurus, priests…basically the experts on human nature, they’d have a more precise definition of the two.
But, I think I finally got it.
Let me tell you a story.
Every day I go to a park. It’s filled with birds of all kinds, beautiful, and dull. Brightly colored, and multi-hued browns only the best ornithologist can label.
Every day I bring bird feed with me. There is one particular bird that I have fallen deeply in love with and I search the park for him. Finally, I find his favorite spot and I visit it daily.
He flies near, lands and bounces around me. As I approach him, he flies away. I chase after him and then he flies further away.
We play this game of proximity and distance over and over again. Once I grab him, and he struggles with his wiry, twitchy body aching against my palm. I bring his beak to the seeds, and he turns his head. Angry at his fleshly prison.
I release him, and he flies for the heights of the trees.
Chase, flee and release merry go around continues. Everyday I leave, defeated, berating my lack of skills, knowledge, drive. It must be me. If I just learned about his species more, if I had the right feed, if I were gentler, he would come and sit with me.
Season, after season passes, and weariness has supplanted desire. I don’t care if he comes, if he swoops by me. I grow angry with him.
Then, spring returns full of promises, and I decide to sit and listen and watch. Not for him, but to all the birds. I absorb the essence of nature, breathing in the freshness of the resurgent grass, hearing the slow popping of buds, and the scampering of squirrels and chipmunks.
I place bird seed on the ground, waiting for any visitor to come and feast.
I come, I sit, I absorb, reveling in all of nature’s subtle rhythms.
Then, my brilliant boy comes, he tilts his head at me, wondering where the chase has gone. I return his query with a wink, and a smile. But, I sit.
He pecks and eats, and flies away. The next day, he does not return, but the third day, he does. But, in the meanwhile, a surly chipmunk has enjoyed the feast, and a mahogany, tiny red crested chirper has bounced, scattering the feed here and there.
I sit. I watch, and absorb, at peace with nature all around me and all that has come to me. And, most days my brightly colored first love comes and visits.
I no longer chase. I come with open gifts and leave with an open heart, expecting nothing in return.