How or why the Hummingbird had ventured inside our home seemed unimportant when faced with the challenge of returning him to his natural habitat outside our home. I expect that the feeder we had just purchased, filled with sweet water and hung on our back porch had probably tempted the tiny thing too close to the open sliding glass door. No amount of gentle encouragement from a feather duster or threatening with a broom had the desired effect. In fact, each attempt resulted in increased frantic flying into the glass, with loosened feathers floating onto my head. Frustrated and fed up, I threatened aloud to let the ignorant captive determine his own fate.
Perhaps it was the fact that my mercy mission attempts aggravated my painful tennis elbow that caused me to cease my efforts with the heartless condemnation, “Let him die up there then!” Suddenly there was silence. No pulsating wings. No muted frontal assaults on the window. And in that moment it was as if the bird’s beak pricked my heart. I, too, was a hopelessly stupid Hummingbird.
Two weeks ago, my intention was to play tennis every day, having not been able to play at all over the past 3 ½ months. I had attacked the court with determination, flailing away wildly, but enjoying the sun, sweat and competition. It was not so much a question of beating my opponent as it was battling my own body. Bashing the ball across (or more often, into) the net left me feeling in charge of the body that was so relentlessly giving up ground to Parkinson’s disease. But after two days of enthusiastic play my right elbow screamed, “Stop!” I bowed out of the scheduled match for the third day thinking that one day’s rest would have me back in play again. That was not to be. Deflated, I felt like giving up on my efforts to fight the PD I felt imprisoned by.
The misplaced logic of my younger, pre-Parkinson’s years had led me to believe that I could pick up a tennis racket and play a set or two without preparation, practice or even warming up adequately. It took the insult of injury to align my perception with the reality. Who was I to judge a helpless little Hummingbird?
The fragile bird lay on its back on the windowsill. My brother-in-law gently grasped the tiny body, intending to relieve me of the need to deal with the lifeless corpse. But, surprisingly, the helpless wings briefly fought against the cupped hands in what must’ve been a final effort to fight for freedom. Hand-delivered to freedom outside, very little energy remained as he was placed carefully on the bright red feeder. He seemed to have just enough life left in him to clutch desperately to the edge of feeder on the porch and sit motionless for several minutes. Dazed and exhausted, he peered about as if lost.
I imagined that the Hummingbird was traumatized and disabled to some extent as he flew away, not the same bird he had been before. But maybe, just maybe, he had learned something about accepting reality instead of choosing the punishment of false perception.
*The choice of male pronoun was not intended to be gender biased. Presumption of gender was chosen for reasons which will become self-evident.