Yesterday was a lovely morning. Warm for early October. I sat on the deck reading a book and drinking coffee when a fight broke out at the thistle seed feeder.
A female purple finch landed on an upper rung. Two yellow finches were eating at the lower rungs. The purple finch decided she wanted a lower rung and so she pecked the head of a yellow finch, squawked, and the yellow flinch flew away. Not content sharing, she poked her head around the small feeder and pecked the other yellow finch, squawked, and that yellow finch flew away, too. She now had the feeder to herself.
I watched her eat for a few moments. Soon she decided she wanted sunflower seeds. There were three purple finches perched and eating at the sunflower seed feeder. She flew to the round perch and pecked at all three until they flew away. She ate her fill and flew away, but the feeder remained quiet for another 10 minutes. None of the other birds dared come back until they knew the coast was clear.
I fill the feeders assuming that all birds who want to eat can. I’m naïve that way, and not just about birds. One finch wanted it all and made the others fly away. She could have cared less what my purpose was for filling the feeders. She had an agenda – to feed herself at the expense of others – and she was not about to share.
I learned this week, yet again, that this happens with people, too. It’s the by-product of writing. Sensitive people have no business writing and I often wonder what the hell I’m doing writing this blog or even speaking on behalf of causes I’m passionate about. I offer my words, both verbally and written, and when they are taken away from me, consumed in the most egregious manner and spit back at me in unrecognizable form, I can barely breathe. I can’t move within my world like usual. I fuss and worry and spend way too much time second-guessing myself.
When you put yourself out there, both in cyberspace and in real life, hate rumors are inevitable. I’ve known that for years as a columnist. Knowing that doesn’t make it any easier when it happens. As a writer, I know that what I write and what I say will be interpreted through the readers’ and listeners’ filters. But what I know to be true and what I live in peace with are often two different things. I’ve been writing this blog for almost a year and many times I’ve thought to quit because a few people haven’t liked what I’ve written. You’d think I could give a shit what other people think, but the truth is, I do. Too much for my own good.
It’s sometimes hard to remember that I can’t make everyone happy with what I write or expect them to join me in my opinion or to even think about their own lives in context of what I’ve written, although that is my ultimate goal in writing. People, like that purple finch, have an agenda. They cull from a piece of writing the part that moves them, makes them angry or speaks to them the most, and I can’t force anyone to read what I write in the way I intended. Usually that’s OK with me. Right now, when my words are scrutinized in ways I never imagined and I’m called every name in the book, it’s not OK. I’m mad, I’m hurt, and mostly I’m stunned.
I don’t want to be that finch that flies away, but right now, I want the hell out of Dodge. Do you ever have times like that? Do you ever just get so misunderstood that you don’t know any other way to deal with it than escape?
The bird feeders are empty again. It’s up to me to fill them. I will, and not because some bitchy purple finch wants to dine alone. I’ll fill them because the majority of birds get along and will feed together in peace. I wish I could believe the same of people.