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More Like a Cardinal

Contemplating the turf war between a pair of stressed House Wrens and a nonchalant female Cardinal perched a little too close to the nest. I was struck by the similarity between the birds and my relationship with my neighbors. The neighbors are fine people, mind you, but they each do something that I find annoying in some small way. And I realized that I was like the House Wrens reacting to encroachment from the Cardinal. And of course, the neighbors were like the Cardinal.

The Cardinal was simply existing, but doing so in a way that annoyed the Wrens. And I recognized I don’t want to be like a House Wren at all. I want to be more like a Cardinal. Not necessarily annoying the neighbors with my presence, but in the nonchalant way that it goes through life.

I realized in that moment that I’m probably going to live in this spot, with a nod to fate, for at least thirty years of my lifetime. By far the longest I’ve spent any time in any place. And I’m a nomad at heart. What brought me to this realization? Comfort? Complacency? Commitment? I’m sure there are C’s I’m missing, but you already know the answer anyway. It’s a bit of each. And this is how communities are formed. People sticking together despite annoying tendencies and a competing urge to try a new place now and then.

Cardinals don’t migrate. They stick with the place they live in and make it work. House Wrens, on the other hand, migrate to warmer climates for the winter and return when the weather warms up again. Snowbirds versus redbirds, if you will. Both return, but where they’ve been in the meantime is so very different.

Ultimately, I long to fly like each bird. To fly off but return to the home nest seems appealing. I’m coming to terms with the idea that my travel will be shorter in duration, but perhaps more meaningful knowing I have a place to land in when I return. Maybe that’s enough. And thirty years in one nest is surprisingly closer than I ever imagined.

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