The return of the muse

The other day, I noticed Kai looking intently out the living room window, and peeked outside to see what he was looking at. Not two feet from the window hovered a hummingbird, trying to figure out if the tassels on Anya’s old tricycle offered any nectar.

My muse has returned.


Female green-crowned brilliant hummingbird
Not my photo — I am not that cool.

Each fall for the past several years, I’ve answered the 10Q questions. One year, a hummingbird featured heavily in my answers. I’d seen this hummingbird off and on for weeks, and it had become somewhat of a mascot.

At the time, I was crushed by financial stress. I’d given up my full-time job for a part-time one, and was struggling to build a freelance side business to make up the slack. R was working, too, but we were still drowning. All along, I’d held firm to my faith that I was stubborn enough to make things work, but I was starting to waver. The what-ifs were winning.

One morning, as I sat on the front porch smoking and stressing, a hummingbird darted up and hovered, inches from my face. We looked into each other’s eyes a long, long moment, and then it darted away again, taking my breath with it.

At once, my worries were forgotten. All I could see was the bright fall morning. How the light fell on the trees, making them glow. The tattered clouds gleaming in the eye-wateringly blue sky. And the emerald green of the visitor who had just rocked my mental boat.

This is more the type of photos my cell phone was capable of.

The hummingbird visited me several times that fall, and each time I was transported from my dark valley of rumination into the present moment. Which was never as bad as my mind insisted it was.

When I look back on that fall now, what I remember are the bright points — the gorgeous fall weather, my adorable daughter, the warmth and security I felt in our little home. And green, green, glowing green. I was quite unhappy at times, I know, but that’s not what I feel when I recall those times.

I see, now, that the hummingbird is my pretty pony.

I’ve learned a lot about mindfulness from that bird. And the transience of trouble. I’ve learned that the mind sifts through the moments of your life, and hangs on to the very best ones. So, too, am I learning to let the darker ones go.

I haven’t seen a hummingbird in several years. Probably because I quit smoking, and thus no longer spend a great deal of time on my porch. But part of me chooses to think that the hummingbird returned because I needed it. I know that’s not the case — not actually possible, really — but it appeals to the poet in me.

Some day, when I am an old woman, I will look back on all of this and wonder what I was so bent out of shape over. Because in my mind’s eye, it will all be glowing green.


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