My 2nd floor office window looks out into the branches of 3-storey evergreen trees. When I’m not meeting in-person with a client, I face out that window, toward the Charles River.
One day in March, a red-tailed hawk landed on a branch right in front of me. He had a headless sparrow in his right claw. There was a flurry of activity as he de-feathered the already-dead sparrow. Then he ate the small bird in bite-size morsels. It was like a National Geographic special right outside my window. When he finished, he wiped his beak and cheeks several times on a clean part of the branch — as if he were sharpening a knife on a sharpening stone. It was not until that moment that I first thought to myself, “Photo!” and reached for my iPhone which was right next to me the whole time. But as I slowly lifted it to my eye, Mr. Hawk took off.
A few days later, I saw a squirrel in the same tree doing something I’d never seen a squirrel do. He very animatedly pulled off pieces of bark in long strips, about 2 and 3 feet long, a bunch of them. I thought he was going to carry them off to build a nest — wouldn’t this be nest-building time in Squirrelville? But no. He turned them over so the inner surface was facing him and proceeded to very quickly work his mouth down the length of the strip as if he were eating something delicious and fast moving. (Sap? Insects?)
Then he let the strips fall. He left some of the strips just hanging without ever processing them. Here’s a photo of one of the stripped branches. If you look carefully you can see a couple of the strips still hanging. The stripped area is reddish; the gray still has its bark intact. And then a photo of the perpetrator.
Because these “National Geographic specials” were such unusual events outside my humble window on an ordinary Tuesday morning, my meaning-seeking mind went to work.
Each of these animals was unabashedly doing their work in ways they are wired to do. Each was earning his living, oblivious to me on the other side of the window. They simply followed their instincts. The squirrel didn’t eat the sparrow. The hawk didn’t strip the bark. I concluded this was an unpaid advertisement for unabashedly following one’s own path.
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