What are you devoted to?

We all have people, places, things, and behaviors that we are “devoted” to.

I can be devoted to my friends or family.
To science.
To helping others.
To something bigger than just myself.
To that still, small voice within.
To understanding my flaws and improving myself.
To my ideals.
To my habits – the edifying and the destructive ones.
To my collections and acquisitions.
Or to other things entirely.

What I devote myself to becomes my legacy.

A quick story about…. birds!

Years ago, my friend Kathy converted her dining room into an indoor bird habitat.

It was an extremely unusual choice, as you can imagine!

The dining room was filled with tropical plants of all sizes, like a yellow plumeria, a pepper plant the size of a tree, and a fragrant eucalyptus tree.

The birds she rescued (and released into the wild when possible) had room to nest and fly.  Fresh air filled the room.  She installed a fountain and the birds had plenty of their favorite foods.  Each bird had their own enclosure within the dining room – so each individual had a quiet spot to roost at night or anytime they needed a safe haven.

There was a pair of love birds – very aloof birds, it turns out, because the species is completely attentive to their mate and has no interest in anything else.

There was a grey parrot – someone’s pet that had been abandoned.  In the safety and good care of my friend, it had become talkative and social again.  That was good because it was so domesticated, it would not have been able to survive on its own in the wild!

There was a parakeet that showed up with the habit of plucking its feathers out.  It took Kathy over a year to help the bird adjust and found the foods it liked.

And there was a green parrot – another abandoned bird with plummage the color of deep forest moss.  The previous owners had kept it in an overlit corner with barking dogs all around and then decided they didn’t want the bird.  Kathy knew the species could be very friendly and often bonded strongly with one person, but this bird was aloof.

She said the green parrot never took an interest in her or the other birds until she had to suddenly move.  Although she took great care to recreate the sanctuary anew in her new house, it smelled different.  The light was a bit different.  The trees had to be grown again and it took time before she could build a new fountain.  The ceiling was higher and the room a different shape.  As the birds settled into the new place, the green parrot started interacting with her immediately, talking to her, cautiously engaging, seeking out what was familiar when everything else changed.

Kathy was – and still is – devoted to the birds she houses.

Some of her birds are devoted to her, some are not.  They’re birds on their own journeys after all, aren’t they?!  Some pass through her rescue oasis and go on to other homes or return to the wild.  Some stay many years.

What are you devoted to? Try out these questions and see where they take your attention:

  • What have you maintained, continued, or enhanced as your environment has changed around you?
  • In the midst of drastic changes, what has remained the same?
  • Who do you still connect with, what do you still do, what do you still acquire?  Even if the answers are mundane to you, they reveal what may be quite unique to you – your unique devotions.

It’s been a few years since Kathy and I have seen each other.  Last time I stayed in her house, she told me to come upstairs at sunrise.  I set my alarm and sleepily climbed the stairs the next morning, the shifting morning light coming through the windows.  I could feel the cool morning air streaming into the house.

She was sitting on the upstairs porch, her mind relaxed, the wild birds from the nearby forest landing on her one by one, eating seeds from her outstretched hands.