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Archive for August, 2015

Sometime towards the end of last year I hit a wall with the book I have been writing on our relationship to time.  A good friend of mine told me that I needed to walk away from the manuscript for a while.  Probably saved the book’s life.  Even though I knew it was needed and I welcomed the chance to recharge my “I like writing this book” batteries, it was a hard transition.  I had wound myself up pretty tight with my goals and to set it aside completely felt like a big let down.

Enter Philip.

Philip is a parrot.  A Congo African Grey parrot, to be exact.  I met him the first time when he was only a few weeks old.  He had just been brought to the pet store from the breeder and was a shivering bundle of nerves.  I wasn’t much better, but my shivering was from excitement, not fear.  This was the moment I had been waiting months for – well, actually years.  Owning an African Grey parrot has been a dream for a long time.  The months of waiting were for the next baby to be available at that pet store.  And here I was, holding my dream in my hands.

For the next two months I literally haunted the pet store.  I was there nearly every weekday after work for an hour and more on the weekends.  He was still being hand fed, so he had to stay in the nursery.  philipIn the early weeks he was such a cuddle bug.  They’d give him his evening feeding and then he’d stagger over to me, nuzzle into my neck and fall into a food induced coma.  As he grew, he stayed alert longer and longer and then began the fun of learning what he liked to eat and chew on … other than my fingers.  We still have a little heart to heart about that from time to time.

Then he came home!  What a weekend that was.  I don’t have kids, and I know that children are in a league of their own.  But maybe I had some small taste of what it will be like someday.  The first night was awful.  I don’t think either of us slept.  He may have slept more if I hadn’t been checking on him every five minutes.  I tell you what, maternal love does some weird things to you.  I suspect he navigated those first couple of weeks a whole lot better than I did.  If he could have talked, I imagine I may have heard something like, “MOM!  I sneezed.  That’s it.  I’m not dying.  You didn’t poison me.  I haven’t been eating carpet.  I had a fluff in my nose and it tickled.  Will you chill out, PLEASE?”

And then there were (and are) the triumphant learning moments that sometimes have a bittersweet flavor to them.  I bought him a ladder that sits on the side of his cage so that he can tromp up and down from the ground to his heart’s content.  It’s good exercise and it is a way for him to get himself back up to his cage.  The first few times he flew off (generally when something scares him), he came right to me and I picked him up.  But then I started training him to go to the ladder.  First I put him on it, and he climbed the rest of the way up.  Then I put him on the ground next to it.  Then I stood by it so he would come over.  Now, he doesn’t even look at me.  He goes straight to his ladder.  YAY!  But wait.  He doesn’t need me anymore!  The triumph of a good parent.  That is the point.  But the first experience of that independence kinda stings a little too …

So, he and I are bumbling our way along, just like any first-time parent and bird.  I think I am doing more of the bumbling than he is, since he is pretty willing to just be himself.  I am the one with the neurotic mommyness, legitimacy issues and beginner parenting skills (believe me, parrots need it!  They are like having a 3-year-old.).  And I think that God revealed His wisdom in causing this to be the time for the dream to begin.  I HAVE an African Grey now, after all these years, but it is not like getting an expensive piece of jewelry or the dream home or vacation.  It is an ongoing, developing relationship.  God has already been busy healing, growing, and unpacking things inside of me.  Things that add color and depth to my spirit and soul.  Things that will do the same for my book.

And I am writing again.

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