Learning from mistakes

mistake3My familia and I went on a bike ride at a nearby walking/cycling trail the Saturday before Easter. On our way back I saw a stark white bird tangled up in some thick vines, not quite where we started. The vines  climb on the trees that line the banks of Buffalo Bayou and creates a thick barrier between the trail and the bayou several feet below, in some places the bayou is about 15 or 20 feet below the trail. I told my wife and stepson to go on without me and that I’d catch up in just a few minutes.


I thought it was strange that I didn’t see it when we headed out about 45 minutes earlier. I guess it could have been there but when I tried to unhook it from the vines that had a strangle hold on its neck, its body fell as if it were still soft and supple. I didn’t want to touch it, not knowing if it had any parasites and without trying to grab it with my hands, I couldn’t pull it from the vines. So instead of unhooking it from its head-first trajectory, I made it fall and it was now hanging with its tail feathers toward the ground.

I felt really sorry for it. I guess that’s why I was trying to pull it off. I don’t know. I wasn’t able to pull it down, I felt like I’d made things worse and I had somehow desecrated his final resting place. So there I was… alone with this white bird that had recently died from a collision with the hard, thin, tight tentacles of the vine.

I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. Certainly there could be meaning found in this. Obviously one’s first thought is “how did this happen?” The imagination might begin to run a little and create scenarios of personification like perhaps this bird committed suicide, maybe it fought off a foe to save a friend, maybe it ran off course while seeking a long lost lover.

The scene itself is rather tragic but I suspect it was nothing more than a bird chasing a flying insect and the bug got the better of this white bird but still… knowing a little bit about how I came across this bird with no concrete, visible explanation as to why it was tangled up in those vines does allow for some inadvertent transference of human events to this bird…. as if something really tragic happened. It’s as if a terrible mistake had been made and this particular creature didn’t make it to the other side of that mistake to learn a lesson from it.

I have made mistakes in my life…


4 thoughts on “Learning from mistakes

  1. I liked that you thought about the bird for more than a brief “oh its a dead bird” and also thought about what might have happened to cause its demise. You have a healthy respect for things in nature.

    • a Boy Named Sue says:

      Thanks, Kaz.
      Kaz or Karen?… which do you prefer?

      Anyway, I like to think I have a high respect for nature and the environment. I wouldn’t say it’s due to a deeply spiritual source like some have but my reverence for nature comes from somewhere within. Perhaps the Divine Spark?

  2. Meg says:

    There’s a lot to be said for paying attention. One summer, I found a dead squirrel hanging upside down from a vine that ran between two birch trees down by the river. Every time I walked the trail, I saw that upside down squirrel, wondering how it managed to stay attached to the vine. There was no way I could remove it — it was too high. But I tried to honor it by acknowledging it each time I walked. It says a lot about you that you even noticed the bird, let alone tried to free it.

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