By Claire4Clarity, Guest Blogger
A recent visit to my local pet store afforded some valuable and unexpected insight. Over a week ago, I visited the same store to pick up a special perch for our pet budgie. Upon entering the store our eyes immediately fixed upon three beautiful chartreuse budgies in the store's largest cage. The two larger birds were obviously friends tagging, tripping and playing together amongst the toys. However, the other budgie silently cowered, seeming to sink further into the wood pellet floor when the other two tried to intimidate her. Apparently, the solitary bird's wings were clipped and she obviously felt unsure about navigating up to the higher perches where the other two preened. After leaving the store my daughter mentioned that the lonely budgie exhibited distress in her actions. She thought the budgie was exhibiting unhealthy behavior, which could be problematic after purchase.
In any case, standing in front of the cage two weeks later, we could not believe our eyes. The not-so-happy budgie was alone in the cage and she was singing and puffing herself with each trill that left her beak. Our double take was mutual because the bird we saw 8 days before no longer cowered on the floor. The entire cage setting became her individual playground. We stood together, mouths agape, as she entertained us with endless antics. Incredulously, I quietly nudged my daughter whispering, "You should rethink buying this bird."
Why was she so different from our first visit?
Subsequently, I told my daughter the once not-so-happy budgie sparkled in her aloneness because she was unencumbered from the other two bird personalities who gave her little space. Her true personality no longer felt stifled by the presence of the two diva birds who performed a self-centered, choose-me-show on such a grand scale that they blocked her shine.
Fortunately, this unexpected teachable moment not only allowed a deep conversation with my child, but provided some much needed reflection on my part. Driving home, I wondered about the many times I judged others by their appearances; I pondered on how others might have judged me by mine. Oftentimes, first impressions are deceptive. This is an inescapable truth in my own life.
Sometimes it is better to pause before making a decision about a relationship or an interaction. Waiting offers an opportunity to respond and not to react: responding instead of reacting usually yields healthier results. When you respond to a situation, it means you took a breath and came to a calm and reasonable conclusion about the conundrum you face. However, when you react to a situation or a person it means you did not give yourself space or time to truly assess. These types of interactions usually end up in conflict and are harder to resolve.
To sum up, my time was never so well spent in a store. In the end my daughter realized her initial judgment regarding the once not-so-happy budgie was an incorrect one. She learned that her first impression of this tiny creature was inaccurate because the bird's true personality was stifled by two aggressive diva birds. The little budgie was expressing her true joy regarding their departure by interacting with us, which included singing, solving climbing problems, and fluttering up and down with her clipped wings. Maybe, in her little mind, she was showing her value to a potential buyer. My daughter recalled how she was affected when exposed to similar personalities. Her actions were not far removed from those of the tiny caged bird she previously judged. She decided to be more deliberate about first time interactions in the future.
Claire4Clarity is a Mount Holyoke College, Frances Perkins Scholar class of 1999 who loves to motivate and inspire through writing. Currently, she is a homemaker who manages her daughter’s online home school program. Claire4Clarity hopes to one day achieve her goal of becoming a motivational author and speaker.