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A New Pattern

“One of the key practical lessons of modern neuroscience is that the power to direct our attention has within it the power to shape our brain’s firing patterns, as well as the power to shape the architecture of the brain itself.”  –Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

There it was, a young dove dragging its wing. The bird was active though, pecking the earth excitedly, finding small seeds. I will trap it in my hat, I thought, and bring it to an animal rescue shelter. Oh, but the long-planned-for talk I was to have along the Sacramento River with my friend would have to be sidelined as half the day would be taken up with this task.

Finally though, it was not the imagined time spent that nixed the idea of my taking action or any fault of empathy in me. It was that the bird, though unable to fly, seemed perfectly content in its environment. Bushes nearby formed suitable cover; the earth was soft so that seeds could be easily scratched up and other birds nearby flitted and fed nearby, giving it company. It was busy scratching and eating.

For the time being, I would let the dove be. I’d have my talk. If the dove got eaten by some predator or picked up by another person wanting to bring it to a shelter, so be it.  And when our discussion was finished, if the bird was still there, I would take it and find help.

I broke a pattern then–of trying to save everything. Having been rescued from death as a baby when an emergency surgery was performed to correct pyloric stenosis, a stomach blockage, I had what many would say was an obsession with rescuing everything. Once I recall spending so much time saving insects struggling on the surface of the pool water that I missed my entire workout swim that day.

But some situations in nature are not meant to be interfered with. Sometimes discretion is key. Examining an automatic impulse can be psychologically healthy, even personally transformative. After my friend and I climbed up onto the green from the river bank where we’d had our tête-à-tête, the dove was nowhere to be seen. Go well, little dove, I bade her. Peace to you. Peace to me.

0 Responses to A New Pattern

  1. So lovely and insightful. It’s true: some things we judge as “broken” or “wrong” have a certain logic that work in context, but we have to be able to step outside of our own worldview to really see it.

  2. I love your “parables” – they are so personal, sensitively written, expressive of a key part of your (and my) journey, and evocative of some of life’s truths.
    This reflection speaks of as well as to me: I am also tempted to answer my “heart of compassion” and forget that there is a bigger picture than the immediate.
    Learning to know and understand ourselves is important indeed!

  3. Thank you for appreciating my “parable” (what a great way to describe it). We have so much still to learn about ourselves, don’t we? Which fires to attend to and how are key. When we clear away the brush of our early traumas, the outlines of the things are so much sharper. I am grateful that I am starting to access the “bigger picture.” That we are on this journey together is so important to me.

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A New Pattern

“One of the key practical lessons of modern neuroscience is that the power to direct our attention has within it the power to shape our brain’s firing patterns, as well as the power to shape the architecture of the brain itself.”  –Daniel J. Siegel, M.D., Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation

There it was, a young dove dragging its wing. The bird was active though, pecking the earth excitedly, finding small seeds. I will trap it in my hat, I thought, and bring it to an animal rescue shelter. Oh, but the long-planned-for talk I was to have along the Sacramento River with my friend would have to be sidelined as half the day would be taken up with this task.

Finally though, it was not the imagined time spent that nixed the idea of my taking action or any fault of empathy in me. It was that the bird, though unable to fly, seemed perfectly content in its environment. Bushes nearby formed suitable cover; the earth was soft so that seeds could be easily scratched up and other birds nearby flitted and fed nearby, giving it company. It was busy scratching and eating.

For the time being, I would let the dove be. I’d have my talk. If the dove got eaten by some predator or picked up by another person wanting to bring it to a shelter, so be it.  And when our discussion was finished, if the bird was still there, I would take it and find help.

I broke a pattern then–of trying to save everything. Having been rescued from death as a baby when an emergency surgery was performed to correct pyloric stenosis, a stomach blockage, I had what many would say was an obsession with rescuing everything. Once I recall spending so much time saving insects struggling on the surface of the pool water that I missed my entire workout swim that day.

But some situations in nature are not meant to be interfered with. Sometimes discretion is key. Examining an automatic impulse can be psychologically healthy, even personally transformative. After my friend and I climbed up onto the green from the river bank where we’d had our tête-à-tête, the dove was nowhere to be seen. Go well, little dove, I bade her. Peace to you. Peace to me.

0 Responses to A New Pattern

  1. So lovely and insightful. It’s true: some things we judge as “broken” or “wrong” have a certain logic that work in context, but we have to be able to step outside of our own worldview to really see it.

  2. I love your “parables” – they are so personal, sensitively written, expressive of a key part of your (and my) journey, and evocative of some of life’s truths.
    This reflection speaks of as well as to me: I am also tempted to answer my “heart of compassion” and forget that there is a bigger picture than the immediate.
    Learning to know and understand ourselves is important indeed!

  3. Thank you for appreciating my “parable” (what a great way to describe it). We have so much still to learn about ourselves, don’t we? Which fires to attend to and how are key. When we clear away the brush of our early traumas, the outlines of the things are so much sharper. I am grateful that I am starting to access the “bigger picture.” That we are on this journey together is so important to me.

Leave a reply