A bird hit me in the side of the head once. It didn’t shit on me. It flew into my head, then flew away.
I was sitting in a parking lot in Dallas on a 100+ degree summer afternoon back in 2007. I sat on the curb in my fancy work outfit, my ass burning on the sidewalk. Of all things, I was wearing fitted black trousers…as if I wasn’t hot enough already.
I was at a low point that I won’t get into. I didn’t cry, because I was far past the point of crying. I sat there—staring at the steamy parking lot, sweating in my personal inferno.
My mind was so jumbled with negative thoughts that it felt like my brain was ready to boil over. I didn’t notice anything around me. A ridiculously happy parade could have gone by and I would never have noticed.
Just as I was about to have a magnificent bawl, a white speck caught my eye in the sky—off to the right. I hugged my knees to my chest, laid my head down on my folded arms, and unleashed my tears. They were the kind of tears that hurt as they spilled out and my eyes were instantly sore and exhausted.
Something hit me in the side of the head about 30 seconds into my sob fest. “What the hell?” I popped my head up and scanned the empty parking lot. I looked off to the left and saw the white bird flying up and away.
I laughed uncontrollably. I wished someone had seen it because it was so unbelievable. But, it was an intimate conversation that was meant to be kept between me and the bird. The bird said: “That’s enough. Now stop and notice.”
Thirteen years later, I still think of that bold parking lot bird, diving out of the sky and waking me up. Especially lately, going through this quarantine of ours.
Pre-COVID, I fell into the habit of not stopping…not noticing the birds. The past two months, as traffic noise became nonexistent, even those of us in the middle of busy cities become enraptured by the birds’ incredible songs. You can’t help but stop and notice them.
In Milwaukee, I am surrounded by gulls. My new favorite activity is to watch the gulls divebomb for fish in the Milwaukee River. In the video above, you’ll see them cannonball into the water at these times and locations:
- 0:11 – Right side
- 0:14 – Left side
- 0:33 – Back by the old bridge
None of them have flown into my head yet, but I guess they don’t need to. Now I know when it’s time to stop and notice the birds.