What Birds Have Taught Me
Life lessons from our feathered friends
In addition to being a writer (and a bit of a chocolate addict) I am a bird lady. Five parrots live with my partner and I and we have also acted as a foster home as needed. Meeting such a wide range of companion birds through a local rescue and rehoming organization has given me a new perspective on animals, people, trust, and relationships.
The parrots found in most homes are wild animals, most no more than two generations removed from their free-flying tropical brethren. They are also prey animals, unlike the cats and dogs to which so many of us accustomed, and so they react to us and to the world around them very differently from the way that predators do. When a bird gives you its trust, that is an incredible little gift.
Bringing an animal into your home is a commitment. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to learn from one another. I’ve learned some lessons from the birds that have shared my home:
Enjoy food. Love food. Throw food around if you have to — and if you are a bird, you have to — to make sure it brings you joy. Eat your greens and your fruit and your health food and steal the good stuff from the plates of people you love. They’ll forgive you.
Snuggle up with the important people in your life. Get warm and close and comfortable with the ones you love. Kiss them and touch them and take care of them. Never stray too far for too long from your flock.
Choose your friends wisely. Almost everyone can be a good friend but only a few people can be your special someone. If you give your love and trust to someone, be sure they are worthy. Stay loyal to them for the rest of your life.
Forgiving can be scary. If someone shouts at you or hurts you by accident or frightens you, it isn’t always easy to give them another chance. If you can find the courage, though, try to believe that they didn’t mean it and that they will work hard not to do it again. Forgiveness is hard but but second chances are powerful opportunities for everyone. Try to believe that people will be good.
Take good care of yourself. Make sure your body is in good shape and, if you want to, go ahead and make sure you are pretty! Put aside time every day for self-care and preen if you want to. Preen until you are the prettiest bird around.
Sing and dance and shout with joy when you are happy. Celebrate when life is being good to you. Don’t get so caught up in the difficulties of the day that you can’t just let loose once in a while.
A query letter is the most crucial step toward getting a literary agent and a book deal. Sign up to receive my free Query Letters 101 e-book!
Deidre Delpino Dykes, an author of speculative fiction, may actually be three birds in a trench coat. She is the co-organizer of the Columbia Writers critique group in Maryland and a passionate player and GM of tabletop role playing games. She is working on a novel-length manuscript and enjoys writing short and flash fiction, some of which has appeared in Wizards in Space vol. 1, Ghosts on Drugs, and Flash Fiction Magazine. Deidre tweets as @DeidreDykes and previously worked as a slush reader for Clarkesworld Magazine.