Tears fell this morning . . . I felt like crumbling down as the realisation filtered down into my mind and heart. For weeks I had secretly placed a bowl of small seeds down upon the balcony floor for an elderly . . . no, frail . . . cockatoo. It was obvious that most of his great wing feathers were missing and his beak was twisted with age, making it nearly impossible to eat anything substantial. 

 I watched his gallant efforts day after day trying to take off to join the flock and follow themas they took to the skies for the night. It came to my attention that he could not lift off, as his strength and feathers were dismal and failing, and yet I watched him make his way from one side of the house to the other, across chairs and tables. I placed objects so that he could climb up onto the balcony rail and I purposefully placed water and seed everywhere in his path. Each sunrise he was there calling to me near my office window, and I would take him food and stand guard whilst the other birds waited to steal from him. 

 I thought that he lived around my house so that he could find the easy food that I left him, and I thought nothing much else . . . until today. I heard a noise on the roof near the gutter and walked out to see what it was. From beneath the balcony roof, I saw dirty tail feathers sticking out and a mischievous thought made me reach up gently to scratch the owner’s tail. 

 The bird got a fright, took off, barely made the lowest point of a banana leaf across the yard and clung on for dear life. It was then that I realised that it was the old bird that I had scared. I walked down to the garden to watch him fly again, but noticed that he was clawing his way up the leaf towards the highest point. His beak, so twisted, was barely a resource and he slowly moved from small branch to twig in the hopes of gaining height. He jumped once or twice across small gaps between interlocking branches and went from tree to tree, to reach a height which any other bird would not pause to consider. 

 Finally, he made it to the lowest branch of a nearby Eucalyptus and there he rested.  It has taken an hour for him to reach the branch . . .

 Three hours later, I spotted him outside the window, and it was then that I realised that his daily visits to my window took him hours to accomplish, and all for a handful of seed and a little water. 

Whilst all his feathered friends were flying freely amidst the gum trees and picking their way through the neighbours fruit, he was climbing to reach a place that made him feel safe and gave him some easy food. What we take for granted! When we have the wings to reach for the stars and achieve great things, we barely give a moments consideration for the gifts that we have. 

 It is only when we have lost the ability to fly that we cry for the feeling of the wind beneath our wings. It is only when we have lost our legs that we mourn for a chance to climb a mountain. It is only when we have lost our dreams that we realise we allowed doubt to steal it from us. It is only when a loved one dies that we mourn the days lost in anger and blame. It is only when we lose our job that we learn to be grateful once again. It is only when we lose our health that we are forced to live healthily. It is only when love leaves our space that we know what being alone is. 

 We take so much for granted . . . the good and the bad. We live as if it is all going to be there forever, and we do not appreciate it when it is right on our doorstep . . .

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