The day I came home from rehab, I was sitting in the dining room, responding to emails. I heard a loud clunk. A beautiful, gray dove had flown into the living room window and was lying on the deck. I scrambled to get my walker, but realized that even if I did manage to go from my wheelchair to the walker then step onto the deck, there was no way I could reach down and pick up the dove, let alone hobble on one leg back into the house − with the dove in one hand and the walker in the other. So I sat in the living room, tears streaming down my face, until Rich got home from his errands.
He gently picked up the barely alive dove and placed it in the crock of a tree towards the bottom of our property. I’d forgotten about the bird until the next afternoon when I watched, through binoculars, a large hawk or falcon nibble on it.
Since the incident, I’ve spent a ridiculous amount of time contemplating its meaning. I have an abnormal fixation searching for the meaning in the most mundane. For several days, I decided that life is a zero-sum game; whereas something must die before something else can be born. I was convinced that was the answer until I read several articles about escalating birth rates in parts of Asia and Africa, which aren’t offset by the atrocities and deaths occurring throughout the world.
I also reasoned that the dove sacrificed itself. Although, logic told me that it probably heard our cockatiels and ring-neck parakeets squawking and wanted to join them. Perhaps the window reflected the trees in our backyard and it couldn’t discern that it was a reflection.
For several days, I watched the hawks and falcon souring in our backyard to see if they could provide some meaning.
Yesterday, I had the answer. The dove signified rebirth.
I came to this conclusion after watching a squirrel scamper up one of our trees. When we first moved to Austin, we had dozens of squirrels in the tree canopies that stretched across ours and our neighbors’ properties. Within a few months, all of the squirrels disappeared. I always believed that the next door neighbor, who had piles of junk, had a rat problem and put out poison, which killed the squirrels. Rich thought our cats scared them away. But our cats are too domesticated and well feed to climb trees after squirrels.
Two years ago, we got a new neighbor, who removed the junk, trimmed the trees and keeps his property spic-and-span. As a result, I’ve spied a few squirrels scurrying across his trees. These squirrels seem to be now voyaging over to our trees.
Lately, I’ve also noticed an increase in the number of bright red cardinals. Our neighbor, on the other side, says that a family of skunks regularly visits him in the wee hours and must live under his workshop. Rich has spotted a baby opossum that set up camp under our shed.
Heavy rains in late January, filled up our creek and the small pond behind the dam. No doubt, it’s now teeming with life − small fish, turtles, plants, and probably a water moccasin or two.
The day I returned home from my accident, the death of the dove signified my rebirth. It was a startling and heartbreaking affirmation that I’d been given a chance to change my lifestyle and attitude and to evaluate what was important to me. It’s an opportunity to start over. To eat healthy, watch my weight, treat others with more respect, show my appreciation for what I have and what others do for me, and to relish each day rather than wish it away.
Julie, two things jumped out at me from your musings of the 28th. 1. What at first seems catastrophically 100% bad can be turned into something good, and your using the occasion of your crash, survival, pain and convalescence as an occasion to re-evaluate your life and priorities is already proving that. 2. Seeing the death of the dove as somehow linked to a rebirth. Michael Crichton asserted in a speech I read recently that the impetus to believe in God is hardwired into us, appearing in every culture in some form or other, even in those who reject the notion of an almighty being who created everything, for they inevitably choose some other entity greater than themselves to which they look to make existence comprehensible, purposeful and hopeful, whether it be Science (as in Crichton\’s case), or the State, or something else. But as I read your account, it occurred to me that there\’s even more than that hardwired into us, namely the impulse to believe in some sort of rebirth into a better mode of existence (whether a literal post-death resurrection, or a rebirth in this life realized as a new, deeper way of seeing and being–or both).