“Without water drops, there can be no oceans; without steps, there can be no stairs; without little things, there can be no big things!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan
I was raking the leaves in my front yard today when I chanced upon what looked like a small mass of compressed twigs and dried-up weeds. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a beautiful bird’s nest that had probably fallen off the corner frangipani tree. Small enough to fit into the palm of a child’s hand, it looked so fragile, and yet at the same time, equally robust for the intended purpose. The more I looked, the more mesmerised I was at its sublime beauty and its incredible functionality.
My chore forgotten, I rushed into my house and hailed the family to be a part of my discovery. I’m glad that my wife and my kids share my love for the little things in life, although the more we looked the less ‘little’ the discovery seemed.
We crowded around the nest marvelling at the numerous aspects of the design.
‘It’s so sturdy, although it’s made of twigs’, my seven-year-old boy remarked.
‘Look at the soft sponge-like matter laced into the design. It’s probably to keep the eggs warm and snug, I think’, my five-year-old girl, ever the little mum, added.
‘Check out the two protrusions on its side that’s providing so much stability’, Ambi, my wife observed.
And then came the questions we knew there were no real answers to, but rather, were more philosophical and introspective.
‘How could a bird build something so beautiful and strong with just its beak and talons?’
‘Did the bird intend to make the nest look pretty or was that just an unintended outcome?’
‘How could it know if the nest could hold the size and weight of the eggs once they were laid?’
‘How could the bird abandon its creation and fly away leaving its hard work behind?’
Some questions stemmed more from our foolish perception of being the smartest beings to ever exist, some highlighted our attachment to material things, and some others originated from our innate desire to find meaning and purpose in life.
The nest is currently taking centre stage on the display mantle in our living room, a futile effort by my kids to hold on to something that its maker so easily gave up, if only for a few more days. It also serves as a reminder for myself to always find the time to pause and appreciate the little things in life and to encourage this behaviour in my kids.
I end with this beautiful extract from Willam Martin’s book ‘The Parent’s Tao Te Ching‘
“Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is the way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.”