I have never stumbled on a dead body even though there are more than seven billion people on the planet.
But I’ve never thought that was strange.
We don’t know how many birds exist. Their vast numbers and migratory habits and lack of census data cooperation make it impossible to pinpoint an accurate figure. Experts estimate between 100-400 billion. (Not a typo. That’s how varied the estimates are.)
Unlike people, most birds live outside. In the trees. Flying the friendly and sometimes not-so-friendly skies.
Small birds don’t live long. Typically just two or three years if they die of old age or “natural causes.”
Statistically, about 150,000 people die daily.
If we extrapolate that number out to birds, based on the bird-to-human ratio, we can roughly estimate that about four million birds die every day.
Yet, we almost never see dead ones.
They perch on our houses. In our trees. They shit on our cars and serenade us throughout the day in almost every hospitable nook of our world.
But still, dead birds are rare.
Which is why some people find meaning in seeing them.
I found a dead female cardinal on my deck yesterday. Just as you see her in the photo above.
I don’t really believe in signs.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t signs. I’m wrong about all kinds of things. The thing I’ve become most sure of as I’ve aged is that I don’t really know or understand anything.
I try to ask more questions and make fewer definitive statements.
What does it mean to find a dead bird?
No one can know for sure.
Still. I wondered what people believed it to mean.
But, I’m Not…
“So keep on walkin’ that road and I’ll follow
Keep on callin’ my name I’ll be there
And if a mirror should break it’s easy to take
Cause deep down I know that you care
I’m not superstitious.” – Europe
Those lyrics have almost no bearing on anything I’m thinking about, but I’ve been singing them in my head all morning and if you’re someone who knows the song, I wanted it to be stuck in your head, too.
Only the last line matters. I’m not superstitious.
I don’t intentionally seek out ladders to walk under. I do note when black cats cross my path. Or when Harley-Davidson motorcycle riders brave a green bike. Or when people aren’t afraid to use yellow lighters.
I’m not afraid of 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42.
I’ve seen no direct evidence that I should be superstitious. But I also see no reason to needlessly “tempt fate.”
I don’t pretend to know anything at all. Not anymore.
But maybe finding dead birds does mean something. Especially one as beautiful as this.
A New Life
“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is more people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman
A quick Google search questioning what it means to find a dead bird yielded many responses. The consensus among the New-Agey community seems to be the following, which I read here. It succinctly sums up what I kept seeing:
“If you’ve seen a dead bird, this usually feels like a bad sign. Actually, death is typically a good sign showing us that an end to turmoil or pain is ending. This doesn’t necessarily mean physical death. Just a metaphorical death. Perhaps you’re going through heartache of a break-up. Perhaps you are struggling to find a job. This dead bird marks the end to your search and struggle. A new beginning is just around the corner.”
I don’t really believe things like that.
But I don’t know.
I don’t think finding a dead bird is necessarily a sign that things are turning.
But I don’t think it matters.
I think it can mean whatever we want it to mean. I think sometimes—not always, but sometimes—we can create truth.
Because it’s spring.
Because the sky is blue.
Because the sun shines.
Because the air is warm.
Because my favorite tree is going to flower soon.
Because we see beauty.
Because we choose hope.
Because the worst thing that ever happened to us, happened.
And we’re still alive.
Or maybe we died. And came back to life.
Either way, there’s a dead bird outside my door.
A dead bird. Reminding us to breathe.
A lifeless bird. Compelling us to live.
A beautiful creature. Encouraging us to fly.
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