I first mentioned the concept of Livity here, when I shared my friend Marlene’s story about running her first marathon at 58. And recently, something happened that caused me to reflect on Livity once again. A few mornings ago, I sat in my living room sipping a cup of coffee. It was a cool, quiet, beautiful morning in my neck of the woods in Jamaica. Then I heard chirping, a little louder than usual. I live in the hills and we have lots of birds in the bushes and forest around us, so bird sounds are a constant part of the soundtrack around us. But this was distinct and louder than normal, and sure enough, a little birdie had flown inside and appeared not to know how to get back outside.
My living room opens out onto the veranda. Both spaces have a gable roof and the poor little birdie found itself trapped in the highest point inside, unable to simply fly directly out. It panicked. It chirped furiously and went from ceiling fan to light fixture, then back to ceiling fan, all the while missing the wide open door leading out to the veranda, out to freedom. It simply wasn’t seeing the way out as it was so high up that it kept running into walls. Sigh. I found myself encouraging the bird to “Fly lower, Birdie, just fly lower“. Yes, I was speaking to the bird. I also encouraged it to “Calm down now, Birdie. If you calm down you’ll see your way out.” Apparently I’m not proficient in Bird, because it ignored me and kept circling and circling at the top of the ceiling. So I decided to help it by doing two things:
- I opened the doors to the veranda fully in order to give Birdie the best possible chance to escape. Perhaps the half opened doors provided too narrow an escape route.
- I turned off the lights in the living room. This had the effect of making the veranda brighter than indoors. Maybe this would force Birdie to lower its gaze and finally spot the Promised Land of Outside.
I sat in the now dim living room in silence. And sure enough, Birdie found its way outside in short order.
What I learned from Birdie
I thought of us as humans, of myself and my journey through life, and extracted three simple lessons from poor Birdie’s (mis)adventure:
- In a tight spot? Panicking won’t help. In fact, it will likely prevent you from seeing your way out. I know, I know: easier said than done. I’ve been there. And panic is an understandable, even reasonable reaction to undesirable and stressful situations. But it is unproductive. Panicking has never made the solution magically appear and it probably blinded me to the solution that existed literally right under my nose. Know what I mean?
- I knew Birdie wanted to and needed to get back outside. So I did more than try to coax Birdie (in a language that it didn’t understand anyway!). I offered it tangible assistance by opening the doors wider. A lot of the good that happens to us in life is because someone opened the doors a little wider for us. Give thanks always. And sometimes we get to open the doors a little wider for someone needing to move from where they’re stuck.
- I removed the distraction of the lights in the living room to make it easier for Birdie to actually see where he needed to go. Listen… Do you see where I’m going? Sometimes God, The Universe, shuts down all the alternative pathways, Doors numbers 1, 2, and 3 included, to literally force us down the path that we’ve always wanted to go, needed to go. That’s why when some things happen we shouldn’t fight it by wondering “Why is it so dark in here?” Rather, as we cease the panicking, we should focus on where the light is now coming from, which door is open and not question why it is so dark where we currently are. You see, we’re not meant to remain in the darkness. The darkness exists so we can better see the light, the direction in which we are meant to proceed.
Our Call to Action
Livity speaks to an all encompassing philosophy of life: the physical, the mental, the emotional connectedness of it all, the reality that when any one of those pillars is out of place, it all crumbles. I started my own weight loss journey 1 1/2 years ago and as I got my body and health right, other things fell into place.
I literally felt my mind, my body and my soul come into alignment. I now try to live my life such that they are all in alignment, where I am intentional about my diet and exercise, and I try to preserve and manage my mental and emotional health, which includes dealing with anxiety. Birdie caused me to reflect on my own livity in this regard, and I hope you have found something that you can take away too.
Are you in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place right now? A place where you don’t really want to be? It’s probably scary and you’re trying desperately to remove yourself from this situation.
Uncertainty is scary. Panic is natural. Panic is also unproductive. You’re not alone. Believe this: a way of escape exists. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by only what you immediately see around you. Exhale, be still for minute and look for the opportunities that exist. Move in the direction of the light.
Can you help someone escape their own undesirable situation? Can you open the escape route for them? Can you help them to stop focusing on the distractions which are preventing them from seeing the escape route?