I've always liked animals. We had cats and dogs, the occasional mouse, gerbil or hamster growing up. I even had a wonderful parakeet named Hutch for many of my teenage years. I was never much of a dog person. Not that I would be mean to one. In fact, I get very upset if I see one mistreated. They're just not my thing.
When my husband Joe and I first moved in together, I expressed an interest in getting a bird. I wasn't certain, however, if it was the right time. We both worked long hours, and I worried about it being alone all day. Plus we were adapting to living together, and that in itself was an adventure for two people used to being on their own.
Finally, a few years later, after we were married, I decided it was time. I gave Joe the option - baby or bird. Well, I was joking, really. Both in our 40's by the time we married, kids weren't in the plan. I've never really had that deeply felt longing. An occasional yearning, sure. But it just never felt right. So, we brought Tori home, and thus began our parakeet adventures. And my mellowing...
Like many parents, I have, on occasion, projected my emotions/perceptions onto the birds. I've decided that they are sad, or hurt, or lonely. Sometimes I think my perceptions are right, after all, I know them well. But I can go a bit overboard.
But aside from that, I started to look adoringly at dogs out for walks with their owners. At stray cats and kittens in the neighborhood. I convinced Joe to put up a tarp over our yard swing, and put in crates with warm fleece blankets to keep the kitties warm over the winter. I put out food for them. Took pictures of them playing in the snow. I started looking into rescuing them. So far that hasn't worked out.
I now talk to the wild birds in the yard. I talk to Mr. Squirrel (of Hallmark fame). I had a rather one-sided conversation with a baby mourning dove the other day. He/she was resting comfortably under one of our lawn chairs.
We've put out feeders for the wild birds. I've even taken to talking to spiders and ants, and other critters, putting them outside of the house instead of squashing them. It just feels better not to destroy them. After all, what's the point. I haven't, however, crossed this spiritual threshold with centipedes. I hate them. I just do. Fortunately, I don't see them too often.
Early this spring I was doing some cleaning. And discovered an ant on the counter. I decided to take it outside, not kill it. I got it to crawl onto a piece of paper to take it out. But, when I turned to go outside, I knocked over a diet coke and it spilled all over the kitchen floor. I took the ant outside and released it. Returned to the kitchen to clean up the spill, and slipped on some ice cubes and did the splits falling to the floor. I haven't done the splits since high school gymnastics, and even then, not really. But this was authentic. And I felt it. The muscles in my legs pulled in ways I didn't know were possible. I sat for a moment on the wet floor, and then slowly got up. I was sore for a day or two. Good karma and clean kitchen floors. I guess it was worth it.
So, the question is...is all this goodwill due to the mellowing that comes with age (not necessarily with hot flashes), or is it a byproduct of having these wonderful birds as companions? (I'm sure my sweet husband has something to do with it as well).
I still swat at mosquitoes. After all, they want my blood. But I also had a brief conversation with a firefly the other night. Well, I did the talking...