My life of late seemed to be hemmed in by a couple of pending things that I had no control over.

One of them has been the process of becoming a citizen of this wonderful country that I’ve adopted as my own. The first step was in 2004, and the second last one was yesterday. (‘Glacial’ doesn’t even begin to describe this process) From an objective point of view the written citizenship exam wasn’t all that hard. The questions were multiple choice and the right answer was obvious if you knew your stuff. Of the 20 questions, I know I got 18 right, 1 was a process of elimination, and 1 was a straight out 50/50 shot. (I had to get a minimum of 15 right)

The language issue was a shoo-in as well. Canada’s two official languages are English and French and I only had to speak one fluently. (it isn’t French) Now my file will be reviewed by an immigration judge, and in 3 or 4 months I’ll know if I am a citizen.

I didn’t really notice how wound up I was until I got home and had a nap that lasted 8 hours. (I tend to hibernate when I’m sick or stressed)

This afternoon I was straightening up my desk (I reckon the things we think are inanimate come out and play when there’s no-one home and forget to put themselves away before we get back) when I heard the most wonderful sound.

Outside my window on a branch bathed in the bright winter sun a tiny bird was singing his heart out. I knew it was a ‘he’ because the lady bird was nearby pretending to ignore him.

I stopped my fussing and sat back in my chair and listened. My spirit followed the song as the little bird flitted from branch to branch.

Eventually he finished paying his respects to his love and they both moved on to another tree beyond my eyes and ears. With the gift of that beautiful song the last layer of my peace gently fell into its place.

Writing is an art of extremes. We labour over our words with a singlemindedness that nothing can shift. (we wouldn’t do it otherwise) We hold the images we create so tightly to our breast that sometimes we can hardly breathe for the wonder of them.

But when they are beyond us, when the queries, and pitches, and submissions take them away from us, it is a sundering that is absolute.

It’s not easy to walk in balance through these processes. We need to pay attention to the moments that call us to pause, breathe, perhaps to shed a tear or two, then smile to ourselves.


6 comments on “Songbird

  1. Amen to that, Widdershins. I’m continually reminding myself to live in the present when I’m starting to think crazily about things that may happen in the future. Something simple and basic is all we need to put things into perspective. The trick is to relax enough to hear it. Buena fortuna.


    • Widdershins says:

      I remember reading an autobiographical note about Bruce Lee where he was on Hong Kong after he became a huge star both in Asia and the West, to make another film,I think it was. He was a hyper kind of guy at the best of times but for whatever reason, this day he was really wound up.

      He took a small boat out onto Hong Kong harbour to try and relax. He was saying to himself, “I must relax, I must relax,” and was of course getting nowhere. In his frustration he started angrily punching the water.

      He said that in that moment he realised no matter what he did, the water would simply move around his fist, that his anger and frustration was irrelevant to the water.

      He returned to shore a happier and certainly more relaxed man.


  2. Thanks for that song “Songbirds” by Steisand and company. The accompanying songs brought back memories even though she’s not a favorite.

    We became naturalized to USA when I was thirteen. I remember a judge saying congratulations and the daughters of the Revolution brought cookies and we all got an American flag. We felt so proud. What happened? Where did the feelings go? They went to bad government policies and bickering and realizing voting didn’t get what you wanted. Where have all the good men gone?
    I need courage to face a new day. I’m worried about the future. The rich get richer and the middle class is getting poorer.



    • Widdershins says:

      Where to find courage?… Phew, that’s a hard one.

      Maybe take yourself out of your life for a while… go find someplace where humans haven’t trodden for a while.

      When was the last time you were truly with your Self? No cellphone/TV/internet, no family, no distractions.

      Be in that place, in that moment, with your Self, and simply breathe. See what happens

      …and then write about it:)


  3. jannatwrites says:

    I agree that worrying about anything out of your control is a waste of energy. Energy you could spend listening to a bird’s song, right? 😉

    I hope your citizenship review goes well and that you are deemed acceptable to be a citizen of Canada. Writing should help distract you from that other outcome that’s now out of your control…


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