"Change your thoughts and change your world." ~ Norman Vincent PealeA tormented man sat each day behind his home on a patio shielded from the weather by a shingled, wooden overhang supported by four large wooden columns of great strength. Nobody knew what had caused this man to be so bitter, so angry and so sad. All they knew is each day, there he sat, trying to enjoy Nature's bounty and the Great Creator's endless mysteries, yet with such a hard heart and tortured soul he could not.
So there he was, alone, with his thoughts and all his sadnesses his only companions.
The man had for so long lived with this company he imagined this would be the extent of his existence forever. He became enthralled by the melancholy, the constant din of the negative. Each day as he sat on that patio he would dive deeper and deeper into the vortex of his own abyss. He had almost forgotten what had brought him there, but not really, he would occasionally admit.
The man's torment had originated from outside the range of his little patio, something he had not created. Yet he was certain if he would sit in misery long enough the torture that followed him each day to the shelter of the overhang would simply go ... away.
There he would sit in rain, shine, cold or warm weather, snow, ice or searing heat, the man's shelter shielded him from any experience, joy or pain. It was as if someone had pulled a shade over each of the three open sides of the man's small world.
And so it was. And the man became comfortable with his nothingness.
One day as the Earth was preparing to tilt toward the Sun in its celestial dance and spring was readying to bring its warmth, wonder, and symphonies of life, an intruder appeared under the eaves of the man's sanctuary. A robin, a very busy robin gracefully landed atop one of the pillars.
Soon the busy robin began constructing a nest on the four-by-four inch square of the supporting wooden column, bringing wisps of straw and strings and things with him in a frenzy of activity. Being more concerned with readiness and haste than cleanliness, the trespasser would soon jeopardize the perfection, quiet and sanctity of the world the man had so carefully fashioned.
And the noise, the phttt-phttt-phttt of the bird's intricate weaving was a constant interruption to his previously enjoyed silence.
Soon, the bird was joined by another. They were starting a family.
The sanctuary would be ruined!
The man had no alternative but to knock down the nest, sweep away the wisps of straw and strings and things, hose the shit off the patio floor - oh, there was so much shit - to reclaim his space.
He looked around and thought, "I have my world back."
He was again at peace, or so he thought.
The next day the man returned to his refuge to resume his daily solitary sojourn in his torment. As he sat down he heard again the gleeful phttt-phttt-phttt of the industrious robin working tirelessly on top of the same pillar swept clean by the man the day before. As if mocking the man the bird would only interrupt his work with a celebratory song, so cheerful in its rhythmic, repeating simplicity.
The man listened and reflected, "I must stop this interruption to my quiet. Why won't these birds allow me my peace?"
Once again, he knocked the nest off the pillar, swept away the wisps of straw and strings and things, hosed off the shit from the patio floor - how could they shit so much in one night? - to reclaim his space.
This performance would be repeated day after day. The man even resorted to drilling screws into the top of the support as a deterrent to the robin's persistence. This only strengthened the robin's resolve by inadvertently providing a foundation onto which the nest could be anchored.
Still the dance of build, destroy, build, destroy continued.
And through all this the man's heart continued to harden.
One day, despite the man's best efforts, the two robins presented to the world three hatchlings.
The wisps of straw and strings and things increased three-fold.
Nature had found a way.
One sunny spring morning as the man emerged onto the patio he thought he might take a quick glance at how the hatchlings were progressing. You see, even he in his darkness and despair could not sweep the new life from the pillar.
Perhaps the robins were affecting him.
This morning as he approached the nest he looked down to see one of the three crumpled on the ground, pushed out, abandoned.
"How could they do this?" the man pondered.
And whatever light that had seeped into his heart and soul left as quickly as it had entered.
Spring approached its concession to summer. The family, the four, moved on.
The nest came down.
Once again the man sat alone. Spring passed into summer, summer to fall into winter. Through the passing of the seasons the man had a lot of time to reflect upon what had transpired those spring mornings.
Why did that robin keep coming back? My resistance had no effect on him. He just kept coming and coming and coming.
Why did the little one have to die?The man had no answers. He felt helpless and hopeless. He looked around and observed time had passed him by once again. Winter would soon be relinquishing its hold on his surroundings to the spring.
"I am done!" he cried aloud. "I cannot continue in this way. I had hoped for life but what I got was death. What is the point! Why even try, or hope, or ... ."
The man broke down and wept in his shrinking world.
That year winter held on longer than usual. Snow was followed by some of the bitterest cold on record, then winds with blistering, stinging rains. The blooms did not bloom, trees tried their best to courageously hold onto their buds, mostly unsuccessfully. The harbingers of spring, the willows, crocuses and forsythia stood silent, waiting, absent.
The man sat in the bitter cold and once again became embittered by his life, his surroundings, all the contributors to his ever darkening existence. Exhausted, this time, he quietly whispered, "I am done."
Weeks past and winter refused to relinquish its place to its successor season. Darkness turned darker. Winter's pulsing silences began to take the man under to anguish even he had never experienced.
"I want my robins back!" he seemed to hear himself say. Then, finally, the winter engulfed him. And he was gone.
Days turned to nights and the man sat silently unaware of his surroundings, his feelings, his breathing, thoughts or dreams. Finally the Earth once again began its tilt toward the Sun in its celestial dance. Spring was ready, ready to take its rightful place in the succession of seasons to bring its warmth, wonder and symphonies of life to the world.
The man felt the warmth of spring upon his face. He opened his eyes yet could see nothing.
Then he heard it, he heard the phttt-phttt-phttt, followed by the rhythmic, simple celebratory song.
And the man swears to this day, if you were to ask him, on that morning, he heard the shit hitting the floor of his patio. He will tell you for the first time in years, he smiled.
"I cannot continue in the way I have been living for so long," the man cried out in his own celebratory song.
"I am NOT done!"
The man looked up toward the four-by-four inch square of the supporting wooden column where for so many days he had swept away the little nests of the robin. And ever so slowly he could see, he could see the robin looking at him, taking a break from his intricate weaving, his phttt-phttt-phttt, his celebratory song, as if to say, "Oh, there you are."
From that time forward the man's heart softened and his soul opened. Each year, he would cherish his time with the robins, the phttt-phttt-phttt, the celebratory songs, even the shit, and of course, the little ones. He would bemoan the occasional sacrifice of the one so the others could thrive.
He began to understand the joys of life are often accompanied by occasional sorrows. He began to laugh again, and cry again.
He became a part of his world, not a refugee within it.
Each year when he would enter his patio and realize the robins had moved on, he would as well. He began to live his life fully inside his little patio, embracing all of Nature's bounties and the Great Creator's endless mysteries. He would soon emerge from his sanctuary to experience the multitudes of adventures life has to offer.
And the man would smile, each day. He would be forever grateful for the despair that brought him to his knees and for the robins that would not give up on him.
He found his true peace.
And nature found a way!
"Life appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs." ~ Charlotte Bronte, Jane Eyre