The following was written shortly after lockdown began in 2020.
There is a lot of advice floating around today. Some of it is practical, like how long to wash your hands, what percentage of alcohol your hand sanitizer needs to be, etc. etc.
Of course some of it is helpful, but sometimes I find the dispensing of so much advice counterproductive and overwhelming. Case in point: In catching up on the news today, I found a small tidbit in the headlines that encouraged everyone to walk around their homes so many steps per day in order to “help decrease the risk of dying early due to cancer, heart disease and other causes.”
I laughed out loud when I read this. Really?! I thought. First of all, walking is not a deterrent to cancer that I know of, but even if it is, do we really need to be reminded RIGHT NOW that we could die early if we don’t get enough exercise during this time?
This is the problem with advice. It always starts out so well-intentioned.
Today I was out in my garden watching the butterflies, talking to my flowers and rearranging things. I sat down in the warm sunlight and just let myself be bathed in it for a few moments. When I opened my eyes, I saw a flash of blue just outside my gate. Curious, I followed it and saw a lone bluebird, strikingly beautiful in its vibrant shade of incandescent blue.
Just over a month ago, I saw a handful of bluebirds in town and I remembered how much joy they brought me in that moment. I don’t see them very often; that flash of blue usually turns out to be a blue jay, but this time, just like last month, a bluebird … right at my home! I watched it for a moment longer and then I turned around and went back to my gardening.
And then, like a bolt, a voice inside me said, “What, are you crazy? Never turn your back on a bluebird!”
What part of my garden couldn’t wait for me to enjoy this rare treat? I turned around and went back to my bluebird and talked to it for a while. I had a lot to say, and as it turns out, bluebirds are good listeners. This one was, anyway. In time it flitted away, leaving a memory of a color forever seared within me. It changed me. This little bluebird lit up the darkness for me, just for a moment. And sometimes a moment of light can change us.
Nobody needs to be reminded to enjoy beauty, but I decided today that if I were an advice-dispenser, my advice for today would be: Never turn your back on a bluebird. It’s not only that you may not see one again for a while, it’s that the joy and beauty they simultaneously bring is immeasurable. And we all need beauty and joy right now, more than ever.