(My Current Newspaper Column)
(My Current Newspaper Column)
I almost received a free acupuncture treatment this morning…from a needle-nosed hummingbird. Note to self: Do NOT drink coffee from bright red University of Georgia mug on the back deck. This summer we set up an all-you-can-drink sugar water buffet in the backyard. Actually it’s just one feeder, but it is slightly smaller than a silo. If you’re not seeing any hummingbirds in your area it is because they’ve all moved to our yard where the rent is free and it’s Happy Hour at the bar all day. I think the hummers like our feeder better than the neighbor’s not just because ours is visible from 30,000 feet and the juice color is neon cherry that glows in the dark, but our hyper-sweet recipe makes pancake syrup taste weak by comparison. We probably should tone it down because several birds have become hyperglycemic and three of the nectar addicts are in rehab.
In watching (and ducking) the flurry of hummingbird activity from the wooden deck of the aircraft carrier I’ve observed some behavior that reminds me of children… and many adults, including myself. First, you can’t help but notice that hummingbirds are not just territorial, they are selfish and paranoid. I don’t know why the manufacturers put four tiny drinking portals on a hummingbird feeder, because there will NEVER be more than one bird bellying up to the bar at a time. That is because hummingbirds are also fighter pilots. Two hummingbirds and a feeder means an aerial battle at supersonic speeds that make Top Gun seem like Snoopy & the Red Baron.
Besides obviously needing a regular dose of Ritalin and a switch to decaf, hummingbirds must be lonely. I don’t see how they have any friends because it appears that every other hummingbird is seen as a rival or a thief. I’m trying to understand why hummingbirds are not in fact extinct from breeding problems, namely failure to breed. Constantly driving off potential mates would seem to be a major obstacle to parenthood. Yet given that hummingbirds continue to be born, something must be happening at night that I don’t know about. However, if leisurely lovemaking is premium pleasure, then hummingbirds must be the least satisfied of all God’s creation. But I digress…
What strikes me as humanesque about hummingbirds is their selfishness and lack of generosity. In Seven Habits of Highly Effective People Stephen Covey writes of the abundance mentality versus scarcity mentality. The abundance mentality is revealed when a person believes there are enough resources and success to share with others. The scarcity mentality is rooted in the belief that given a limited amount of resources, a person must hoard what they have and protect them from others. Children show either an abundance or scarcity mentality with their candy, but adults do so with their less tangible prizes such as opportunity, advancement, recognition, affirmation, applause, and praise. Give two boys identical wedges of pie and they will instinctively look to see who has the larger piece. Have you ever congratulated or affirmed one of your children and heard his sibling either minimize the accomplishment or point out one of his own praise-worthy deeds or qualities? A child will tend to imagine praise to be like a pie—a finite and limited (and highly valued) sphere, so he better get his share. I’ve observed one territorial hummer, his tank likely full, lighting on a nearby branch. But he cannot rest having enjoyed his portion because he is constantly warding off other shoppers as if saying, “No, I’m not thirsty, but you can’t have any regardless.”
And that is different than adults, how? Can you celebrate a co-worker’s success or recognition without jealousy? If an opportunity arises and you can either hoard the spotlight or share it which do you choose? What happens inside when you feel you didn’t receive all the credit and appreciation you think you deserved on a project whether that was organizing a non-profit fundraiser or collaborating with a sibling on Mom’s surprise party. One of my favorite quotes to remind me of the abundance mentality is one Ronald Reagan kept on his desk: “There is no limit to how far a man can go if he doesn’t mind who gets the credit.”
-- rLp --
-- rLp --