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Posted By Opening the Heart

About six weeks ago we began to notice a robin building her nest in our front porch light. She worked efficiently and was very focused on her mission, not letting our occasional coming and going interfere with what seemed like her internal clock to get something done within a magical deadline only she knew.

It seemed that within days the nest was done and we noticed she began the patient wait for three little blue eggs to hatch. We knew how many eggs because we rigged a mirror to a pole and could see the inside of the nest when mom wasn't there. We don't know exactly when they hatched but it seemed to all happen very quickly. We used our mirror when mom flew off to get food and the chicks must have hatched no more than an hour before we took a look inside the nest. We couldn't even make out chick forms. It just looked like pulsing insides of an internal surgery.

Again, within days we began to see three little beaks opening and closing over the top edge of the nest. When I walk our dog, Fenway, I often take him onto the field adjacent to our house. It's where Brown plays its rugby games so it's beautifully kept. I began to take a new interest in the many robins that were always on the field. Nine quick steps, stop, dead- still. Thirteen quick steps and, again, freeze. When it was the "right place", the robin bobbed and pulled out a worm. How did they do that? How did they know exactly where the worm was?

So I googled "How robins catch worms", and I learned something astounding: it was not a lucky guess on the part of the robin. They actually are outfitted with an exquisitely-tuned auditory system that "hears" or feels the worm moving. What perfect programming! So I began to wonder :what is it that we were "made for"?

I suppose that this question lives on the same block as 'what is the purpose of life?' I couldn't stop thinking about this question: what is it that we were "built for"? I came up with lots of answers that seemed unsatisfactory and much more complicated than a robin using a perfectly designed auditory system to find a worm.

And then one day I was listening to a Bob Franke CD. He's a great songwriter and folksinger and I heard this line: "What can you do with each moment of your life but love til you love it away- love til you love it away." And I thought maybe that's it. That's what we human beings were " built for". Not nearly as simple or elegant as bobbing for worms, but the zig-zag drift, the car bumper phenomenon of an addiction or a painful loss or a setback or losing one's way. I mean you just don't hear about a robin leaving her family for a scandalous affair with a bluejay. From that bigger perspective, all our mistakes and failures are ways of trying to get it right, to be a better human being- more loving, kinder people.... Anyway, for now, that's my working hypothesis.

With Love and Respect, Jon


jon berenson


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