Action expresses priorities.
~ Mohandas Gandhi
Walking in Memphis along a tree-lined street, I noticed a hatchling on the ground. That baby bird had some big feet disproportionate to its body. I stopped. Of course, I stopped. Frightened with three people hovering over it, the bird kept moving and hopping. It was directionless, lost, and vulnerable.
I wondered if a cat would ultimately get my bird. Some wild animals like foxes make their way into downtown Memphis so who knows what else awaited the hatchling.
Eventually, I walked away looking back several times at the bird. We reached Methodist Hospital, our destination, but I was still thinking about that bird. Maybe I should have tried to grab it, find the nest, and put it back.
At the hospital, I took the elevator with an elderly woman who reminded me of my grandmother. She got off at her floor and looked around lost hauling her oxygen tank. I said to my colleagues as the doors closed, I should have gotten off and helped her. Another moment, another chance missed. She reminded me of the bird–directionless, lost, and vulnerable.
In the hospital finally at a meeting, I was in a pensive mood. The colleague we were visiting had a pile of little finger puppet on his desk. Someone picked one up. Another said something about the puppets. My colleague, the host of the meeting, picked up the Gandhi finger puppet and said, “That’s for you.” I held it in my hand. Put it on my finger. I said, “Why Gandhi?” He said, “You know, environment . . . justice . . . the thing you do.”
Stepping out the building the grandmotherly woman was waiting by the door probably for her ride. She was making it through ok. My colleagues and I walked back to work and the hatchling was gone. Who knows what happened to my baby bird. Maybe it made it.
I shoulda. I coulda. I am certainly no Gandhi but in the struggle, I need to move from thinking to acting like the great man. That thing I do responding to the bird, the woman, to creatures, to people.
Photographs by Dianne Glave