My companion animals are more than just my friends; they’re also my teachers. I’ve recently reflected on the lessons from my pushy, wild-caught cockatoo. He’s a rescue, probably over 35 years old, and full of personality. Domestic birds of his breed will learn to speak, but that boat has sailed for him. He just makes wild bird noises. He came with a dopey name, Sugar, but since he responds to it, we haven’t changed it. So what does he teach me?
- Celebrate each day as the gift that it is! (He greets the rising sun with a fury of shrieking which, believe it or not, means he’s happy.)
- Speak your truth. (He never holds back saying what he thinks, if only I could understand.)
- Ask for what you want. (He doesn’t just ask for what he wants, he demands it.)
- Don’t be afraid to show affection for those you love. (He is quite a snuggler with his favorite person.)
- It’s okay to play! (He likes to somersault down my cleavage when my husband isn’t watching.)
- Freedom is more important than we think. (Caged, Sugar is depressed beyond measure; he lives to fly.)
- Order is over-rated. (He makes chaos out of order.)
Making chaos out of order can be hard to see as a gift, but sometimes I need to be nudged, or even pushed, out of a rut. Those ruts can be in my thinking, routines, career path, friends, or hobbies. When I get out of my comfort zone and take some risks, I can enter new zones of chaos. Bring it on! You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. I can’t do anything new without inviting in some chaos. I might as well get used to it and make it my friend.
There are other lessons, in the negative, that Sugar is happy to teach me:
- Don’t be a bully. (He’s dominates the other birds, although he thinks he’s a natural leader.)
- Don’t be wasteful. (Parrots, by their nature, are wasteful eaters; they’re designed to seed the rainforest.)
- You can toot your own horn too much; keep it modest. (Cockatoos can be very, very loud.)
I’m still quite a distance from being the person I’d like to be, so there are lots of things to learn. My companion animals are doing their best to help me out. It’s my job to listen and learn.