How To Look At Your Problems With a Joyful Heart: Lessons From My Parrot

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I returned home from a 3-day journey last night and the first complaint I got from my wife was; “Come to the hall and see how Gylfie (my parrot) has messed up the whole place. It no longer sleeps in its cage and goes about littering the whole place.” It’s obvious she wasn’t happy but it’s a bird, you can’t advise it to stop. That’s where the problem lies.

I had Gylfie from a breeder when it was only eight weeks old. I learned to hand feed it six times a day, including dawn because it hadn’t weaned when I got it. It little cage was sited close to my bed and each dawn when it makes that hungry noise, I woke up and fed it. It disturbed my sleep each night but the joy with which it flapped its wings and wiggled its tiny tail feathers whenever it saw me bringing food at dawn was enough to fill a man’s heart. It would open its beak this wide as I dropped the food in its mouth one after the other. And after I’ve fed it and going back to sleep, it would make these series of low noise that seemed to say; “please don’t leave me alone I want you here.”

Now Gylfie is a grown-up parrot—not an adult yet but it can feed on its own and fly around when it wants to. My neighbors never stop admiring it and friends look at it and instantly desire to own a parrot—a parrot like Gylfie. This is what they see…

Gylfie the parrot
Gylfie

They see the unlikely friendship between two creatures with nothing in common but the joy of belongingness. They see a parrot who doesn’t fly away on seeing the approach of people just like birds in the forest do and it enchants them. Birds live in the wild but this parrot lives among humans. It walks around them and desire their touch and crave to be loved just as humans do. And hey…this parrot can talk, too. It knows everyone in this house by name and it’s alluring to hear it mention people’s names and its own name as it struts by.

They see all the beautiful things but not these…

This is a creature who needs special care—it needs special monitoring too. For the rest of my life and its life(depending on whose life comes to an end first), I’m going to be the one to take care of it. I’m going to be the one to wake up in the morning and put food in its cage and change the dirty water in the cage and replace it with something cleaner. At night before I go to sleep, I have to repeat what I did in the morning—put food in the cage and change its water. Every day till forever, I’m going to do that. If you don’t know much about parrots, you’ll be thinking; “but it’s a bird and it’s going to die very soon.” Parrots like mine (Congo African grey parrot) lives for 80 years and beyond. Now you see the scale of the problem?

What it means is that having a bird like mine is a lifetime commitment. One morning I thought of setting it free. It was a weekend and I was very tired. I thought of sitting on the couch and watch movies all day. I didn’t want to touch a thing until I saw Gylfie strutting around till it got to my feet and started biting at my toenails. Its cage was very dirty. I haven’t cleaned it all week and probably haven’t changed its water for some days now. I looked into its bowl and there was no food in it. Probably I didn’t give it food the night before. I had to get up, clean the cage, which takes about 30 minutes to do and provide seeds and clean water. I was tired and thought of setting it free.

Its freedom would have been my freedom too. Its joy in the skies would have been my joy on the couch. At last, I wouldn’t have to do anything for Gylfie again—for the rest of my life. And for the rest of its life, it wouldn’t have to depend on me for anything and yet own a piece of the sky. That’s liberating—for both of us. But I didn’t set it free, not because I couldn’t. I read about the implications of setting a domesticated parrot free and what I found brought reality back to me; “domesticated birds set free don’t survive. They die of hunger because they don’t know how to hunt for their own food.”

So I couldn’t…and I didn’t

It’s not all joy anywhere in life. People are not all joy. Nothing brings forever joy. It’s how you choose to live with situations of your life that make all the differences. Usually, we end up with situations that are more than what we bargained for. What we are joyful about today, might be everything we would want to live without tomorrow. People marry with all joy today and tomorrow they regret their decisions—they regret their choice of spouses, either they realized something that wasn’t there in the beginning or they just grew out of love.

I love my job. When I didn’t have a job, it was everything I ever prayed for but you see, recently I’ve thought of walking away, not because I have a better option, but because I feel fed up and stunted and everything that’s negative. I want to walk away—I want to just escape this perceived boredom. Walking away seems to be the best option when we are faced with something or someone unpleasant. But it isn’t…

Gylfie is a lot of work I have to endure until tomorrow and every day. It poops on my bed and chews some of my wife’s shoes. It spills its food on the carpet and makes a lot of noise sometimes but it’s my Gylfie. Do I have to let it go because it has negatives? Must you let your spouse go because recently all doesn’t seem flowery like they used to be? Must you leave your job because you hate your boss and hate your colleagues and even hate the customers of the organization? The easier and obvious choice is letting go but before you do, ask yourself these…

a) Yes, it hurts but is it going to kill me?

b) Yes, it hurts but is it going to hurt forever?

c) Yes, it hurts but is it the worst that could happen?

d) Yes, it hurts but does it put other people in danger?

READ ALSO: This Is The Reason Why People Leave Your Life

If the answer to all these is “No” then it’s about time you gave yourself the classical line; “This too shall pass.” And it’s true, nothing goes on forever. Everything ends at a certain point. With Gylfie, I know both of us are bound forever but the bad get to end at some point. If my wife keeps her shoes somewhere safer, it wouldn’t chew it. I might be too tired to clean its cage sometimes but it’s ok. When I’m well rested, I can clean it up. Uncleaned cage doesn’t kill a bird, does it?

Be comforted by the fact that your problem gets to end at some point in time. You can’t love what you do every day. It gets boring sometimes and people can frustrate the love out of your work but, you get to come back to loving it again. What we see as problems or burdens are only passing tides. They’ll rock our boats and make us desperate and even make us want to end it all, but it gets better. Just give it some time.

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