This past weekend I was able to get away to an annual fishing trip in Muskoka, Ontario. I have been travelling with the same bunch of blokes for many years and the trip has been a tradition for more then 25 years. I live a very busy life but I plan to attend it annually. Its part of my long term personal and business planning. It helps me live life fast and full. While I can’t lie, it is not just about fishing. Its about downtime, comradeship, calm and maybe even bacon, bourbon, and beer.
I also make a point of having just me time on any trip that I am on. Everyone should ensure there is personal time in all aspects of their lives. Funny thing though, as I was sitting watching lakeside early Saturday, I spent some time watching the Black-capped Chickadees (Chickadee) skirting and scurrying above me in the treetops. Sometimes you learn a lot from even the smallest things in life.
The point of the trip is that we all need to find some time for ourselves. In researching for this post, I learned that at night, the Chickadee survives without food because it achieves a state of torpor where its metabolic systems slow considerably allowing it to conserve enough energy to make it through the night. Here the Chickadee teaches us that regardless of need, we all must stop, unwind, and rest to live a healthy, productive life.
Most people know I spend a lot of time outside and I am an avid photographer. I’ve discovered song birds and they are quite something to behold. It begins with their sounds. They really do sing, especially the little warblers and wrens who are also very busy. Their colours are magical. They are breathtakingly beautiful. But I must admit, it’s the Chickadees who have bring me the most joy.
I’ve observed that more then anything else in nature, Chickadees can teach us so much more about living, if only we’d appreciate the characteristics they possess. While watching them, I’ve learned lessons on life.
Make a nest. You don’t need a beautiful house to make a nest. Any house that is safe and protected from the elements will do – the smaller the better because it keeps the thieves away. Humble and modest seem to work for Chickadees just fine.
It can easily be said that Chickadees are among the most well-loved birds anywhere. Cute, round, and puffy, they just melt the hearts of many. Add to that their sociability. Cuteness aside, no bird fights for and protects its territory more fiercely than the Chickadee. Being smaller than most of these species, it takes an enormous amount of feistiness to fight for the right to a nest location. These battles for position never end in hurt or death – the Chickadee knows when to draw the line. Because of its resiliency, the Chickadee often wins out anyway.
Keep going. Chickadees don’t ever stop hunting for food, and even if it appears they are too tired to do one more thing, they keep going, because the babies must be fed. So, it goes with life, we must keep going even when it feels impossible.
Winter brings with it many other traits that offer us valuable wisdom on life. Most profound is the Chickadee’s incredible ability to survive the most severe conditions that the cold season can dish out. Being highly energetic, Chickadees need to feed throughout the day and will do so in pretty much all but blizzard situations. This demonstrates amazing strength and endurance under the most stressful of situations, qualities we humans should model.
Protect what matters most. I’ve observed chickadees shooing birds 5 times their size away from their house. They don’t care what the size. Nothing is going to stop them from protecting what matters most.
One of the most exemplary behaviours of the Chickadee is among the most unexpected when you consider that this tough little bruiser knows how to fight and compete. This more charming characteristic can easily be witnessed when Chickadee’s flock with their own and other species. It is thought that flocking in Winter may help birds to survive tough conditions by sharing body heat during night-time roosting and helping to protect them from predation. Strength in numbers.
Mind your own business. When you have a purpose (and the bigger the better), you don’t have time to get into anyone else’s business. We live in a world filled with so many distractions, that it’s easy to spend time in other people’s business. Just look at social media and the lost hours spent comparing.
During winter feeding, when resources are scarcer, when Chickadees feed, they grab a seed and fly off to a suitable perch to eat it or store it. But instead of just heading back to a food source for another seed, Chickadees wait their turn, allowing other flock members to have their chance at retrieving vital nutrition. They keep their business to themselves and respect the business of others. Keep your eye on a couple of Chickadees or a Chickadee flock feeding in the same area and you can witness this altruistic behaviour.
We can learn a lot about living a full and complete life from nature and the Chickadee is a wonderful role model for us all. But what does this mean to you? The model is that of living our busy lives to their fullest. The concept of living life to its fullest has a lot of working parts. The first concept that is most prevalent to me is mindfulness. The idea of being mindful is being present and being more conscious of life as it happens. Just like a Chickadee.
Living Your Life Mindfully
It is this last lesson that resonates with me the most. Living your life more mindfully. This seems a bit impossible to many of the super busy. Not only is it possible, I’d submit that it’s desirable, and that it’ll help the busy and non-busy achieve their goals and enjoy life more fully.
However, most super-busy types, are having trouble being mindful and living life to the fullest. It seems contradictory to those who are used to sacrificing living for pursuing their goals but cultivating mindfulness will help you achieve your goals and enjoy life more.
Focusing on one task at a time, putting yourself fully into that task, is much more effective than multi-tasking. Focusing on one real goal at a time is also more effective. I’ve proven it to myself repeatedly over the last few years. Focusing on what you’re doing right now is highly effective. You’re more productive when you’re mindful.
But more importantly, being present is undoubtedly the only way to enjoy life to the fullest. By being mindful, you enjoy your food more, you enjoy friends and family more, you enjoy anything you’re doing more. Anything. Even things you might think are drudgery or boring can be amazing if you are truly present. Try it. It takes practice, but it’s incredible.
These are not complicated life lessons, but watching Chickadees this past weekend has reminded me that life doesn’t have to be so very complicated. At the end of the day, it really is the little things that matter most along with how we show up every day in our lives. It is the best way of Keeping Life Current.