I was walking along a little trail today, when I noticed a dove sitting on the ground. It wasn’t until a girl walked up to it with gloves though that I realized it was injured and couldn’t move. “Can’t fly anymore”, she said and told me she was bringing it to the woods nearby so it can get some peace and nature can take its course. “Or can you take it to the vet?” she asked me. “Well, I do have a car”, I replied but felt some hesitation come up at the same time.
I guess she could feel that, too, as she didn’t respond but approached the scared bird carefully and picked it up instead. Now I could see the broken leg. Poor little guy. “This is breaking my heart” she said, “but I’ll let it find some peace now.” “Sadly this is also a part of nature’s way”, was all I could say in return, still debating internally if it was my responsibility or even my right to intervene. “Goodbye” she said to me, speaking for the bird, before she walked away. It was sad. I was sad. I thanked her, said my goodbyes to the little bird, while blessing it and sending love and light.
As I walked off I still didn’t know if that was the right decision. It didn’t feel quite right but taking it to the vet didn’t feel right either, otherwise I would have done it. I was already on my way to someone I am currently taking care of and honestly wasn’t ready or willing to take on any further responsibilities. What if I had taken it to the vet? What would have happened afterwards? Who would have taken care of it? Who would have paid for it? Writing this I realize that compassion doesn’t ask what if questions. Compassion doesn’t ask questions period.
But who’s to judge if just bringing the bird to a peaceful place to die wasn’t the most compassionate thing to do in that moment? Who’s to say if it wanted to be saved at all? Maybe it didn’t even want to be moved? It didn’t say: “Could you please take me to the woods?” And it didn’t say “Could you please rescue me and take me to the vet?” either. We don’t know and all the girl and I could do was act upon our intuition and do what felt right for us in that moment based on how we experienced the situation. May you rest in peace little birdie.
We tend assume that whatever is broken needs to be fixed. However, sometimes broken stuff doesn’t need and doesn’t even want fixing; sometimes it’s much healthier to just let it die peacefully…as harsh as that may sound…people, animals, relationships, (self-)concepts, illusions… Unfortunately this is one of the root causes for guilt at the same time. “I could have done more or something else. I should have done more or something else.” Aren’t we all familiar with these voices in our heads?
I am shushing you now and for good guilty voice! This is my official commitment and conscious decision to let my shoulding guilt die right now! Fixing it or keeping it alive is no longer serving me, in fact it never was and probably never will be. It just took me a while to figure that out :) Regarding the bird I did what I could in that very moment and so did the other girl. And sometimes not acting is the best action we can take as long as we are respectful of everybody’s needs including our own.
It’s so easy to forget our own needs, to ignore our inner voice and the signals our body and mind are sending us, when we are busy trying to help others. However, a broken you can’t be of much help either way. Not for yourself and even less so for others. As much as I keep wanting to save the world I’ve come to accept that I can’t and that it’s not my responsibility either. But what I can do and am responsible for is to take care of, change and save myself. And what if that might actually be my contribution to saving the world?