The Mockingbird & Motivation

A beautiful red cardinal moves towards our feeder to get some food when it is attacked by a gray blur with white marks on its wings. The mockingbird is back, frantic and feisty and not nearly as enjoyable as the James Taylor/Carly Simon song about it. The melodious message of other birds is severed by the mockingbird’s harsh scream. And while I am amused by its ferocity, I’m also exhausted by it. I turn toward the bird as it lands on the fence and say, “Stop it! These birds are doing nothing to you. You don’t own the bird feeder.”

The bird screams back at me, and while I realize it probably has a nest nearby, there are cardinals and finches and wrens with nests near the feeder who still seem to be able to sing and share food and fill my birdwatching moments with delight. The other birds are polite, lining up on the fence, waiting their turn like classmates at the school cafeteria.

The mockingbird, on the other hand, sees everything as its enemy, swooping and fussing. It seems addicted to its own paranoia, assuming that every single bird, whether a hawk or a wren, is out to get something of theirs. Like the mean kid at school, it looks through the lens of a bully, seeing nothing but other bullies in its path. While its song can be varied and gorgeous, its behavior is focused on threats. And my motivating morning quickly switches to annoyance.

I think all of us have days when we are like the mockingbird. A day where everyone at work seems to be working against us. Where we are wary of outsiders. A day where our voices are harsh with fear, making us hard to listen to. A day where we believe singing is weak, screaming is strong, and nobody is a friend.

We chase away help and kindness, determined to do it all ourselves. Just like our gray and white friend.

What if all birds began to act like the mockingbird? What if they all started attacking each other, unprovoked? The varied songs would stop, the beautiful colors would separate, and there would be less grandeur in the world because of an unsubstantiated fear.

So, while we might have mockingbird days, I hope we are more often hearing the different songs around us and relishing the varied notes. I hope we are taking in each others’ spectacular colors. I hope that we are motivated by love, and understand that the fearful creature, while loud and diverting, should not separate the rest of us.