On my way to my car this evening, before my night class, I had a strange experience. I was strolling to my car door, minding my own business, when I noticed a loud rustling in the grass. I looked up just in time to see one of the many stray cats that roam around behind my place grab a bird in its teeth. The bird struggled, cried, puffed it's feathers, but it couldn't get away, and I just watched. I was stunned. I had locked eyes with the cat, and my first reaction was to shout and wave my hands, but the cat just looked at me. It's eyes were cold, the bird in it's mouth, struggling...not wanting to give up, and it just stared at me, as if to say, "this is how it's supposed to be. This is life," and for a minute I believed it. I accepted that that was life.
I had been having this conversation in my head earlier in the day. Life is pain and struggling. That's just what it is. It's hard, and it's not fair, and there's not a whole lot we can do to change it. This bird, caught in the jaws of a slinky alley cat, began to accept this as well. He was a part of the circle of everything, and his time was up. His chest had stopped puffing, and his cries had subsided.
As I turned to my car door, my keys shaking in my hand, I couldn't get the image of the beautiful chest of this bird out of my head. It wasn't an ordinary bird. Its breast had flecks of red and gold mixed with black, and it's cries, while made in agony, were almost beautiful. In a split second I let out an emphatic, "no!" I turned, picked up the closest thing I could find (there was a brick and a stick, and I chose the stick because I imagined I could throw it further). I tossed the stick towards the cat, its eyes locked on mine...and it dropped the bird.
Without wasting a moment, the bird beat it's wings and flew away. The cat ran in the opposite direction. It was remarkable. I don't know if the bird made it very far. Perhaps it made it home to bleed to death, but I try to find comfort in the fact that it had those moments of freedom. That it got away instead of completely surrendering to the clenches of the cat's jaw.
I say it all the time: life is hard. That's just the way it is, and I feel a sense of satisfaction in my contentment with that fact. What surprised me about today, was the power behind that small part of me that refused to believe in that as the final answer. It was a spark of hope, not just for the bird that, like me, had begun to stop struggling against the fate of the drudgery of life. The instant the bird regained its freedom, it began to sing again. Sometimes the only thing we need is for someone to come along to throw a stick at the despair that is holding us tightly in its jaw. Sometimes we need to do the throwing. (However, I would definitely go with a stick rather than a brick. We don't want to risk killing the bird in the process of rescuing it)