I love Magpies, but when I hear their shrill squawk right outside my window, I often get annoyed. I feel bad about this reaction – the sounds of Mother Nature should never annoy me – but I just can’t help it. When in close proximity, the loud call of the Magpie is so jarring to my senses. I am very sensitive to noise, whether produced by humans or nature.
A few weeks ago, a Magpie couple was active in and around my patio for about a week. Needless to say I found myself annoyed quite often, but then I remembered the story of another annoying couple…
Last October, my friend Rona and I met for an after-work drink at a local pub. When I arrived, I chose the ‘quietest’ table, furthest away from other people. Seconds later, a couple sat right beside our table, their loud voices immediately overwhelmed my senses.
I was so annoyed. I was looking forward to a glass of wine and a good chat with Rona. The likelihood of an enjoyable evening was now greatly diminished.
‘We might have to move tables, they are just too loud,’ I said to Rona.
Cleverly diverting my focus, she just smiled and asked me about the Masters program I was working on. I started telling her.
Wine came, food came. It did not take long for the voices of the annoying couple to fade, as Rona and I sank into a deep discussion about understanding multiple perspectives, the beauty of connection and the seemingly overwhelming state of divisiveness in our world.
The depth of our conversation was not unusual – Rona and I tend to go deep during our after-work wine/whine sessions – but the insight I gained that evening also led to a profound creative shift that informed the direction of the final project for my MA.
I had used the word interconnectivity many times before in describing my project, but during my conversation with Rona, the concept took on a new energy, grounding itself into my creative vision.
The couple at the bar remained outside of my attention for the hour or so Rona and I were talking, until they got up to leave. I watched them smile and laugh as they paid their bill, thanking the server for a great evening. They seemed so happily into each other. The woman turned towards me and smiled, I smiled back and said ‘have a good night!’
My perspective on the couple had not just softened, it completely melted from the hard core of annoyance to the tenderness of appreciation. I realized the couple was only annoying to me, in my pre-conversation-with-Rona state of mind, before experiencing a powerful state of connection.
Remembering the power of this shift with a human couple, I tried to soften my perspective by observing the Magpie couple’s interactions. They squawked at each, flared their wings, flew from branch to branch, likely engaged in a pre-mating dance of some sort.
Being part of the corvid family, along with ravens and crows, their behaviour was in line with what I expect to see in these birds – bold, loud, expressive, in-your-face, qualities which humans often see as obnoxious and annoying.
Despite my annoyance, I realized that these are the very qualities I so appreciate about Magpies and all corvids. Loudness – boldness. In fact, I often try to capture the ‘absurdness’ of corvids pestering much larger birds of prey.
Then, the tone of Magpie couple’s conversation softened – instead of shrill squawks, they started exchanging what I can only describe as guttural murmuring. This new exchange was much more tender and affectionate.
I have heard this expression many times – it is just one of the many voices Magpies use to communicate. I had just never paid attention to this aspect of their personality before. I certainly had never attempted to photograph it.
I immediately experienced the same sense of peaceful connection as I did after my experience with the ‘so-called’ annoying couple in the pub many months ago.
Both the Magpie and human couple annoyed me, but labeling them as annoying is a ridiculously limited perspective that prevents me from seeing the magic of interconnectivity.
No one is just one thing.
Human or animal, we are complex beings woven together by multi-facetted interconnections. There is as much potential for ‘good’ as there is for ‘bad’ in all of us. Which aspects we focus on governs the depth of our experience.
Unlike animals, we have the ability to make conscious choices about where we place our focus. This ability is easy to ignore, often smothered by a pile of emotionally-charged distractions.
Sometimes we allow ourselves to be inspired by a greater force, in the form of human/animal connection, guiding us towards a beautifully expansive way of being. This is the power of interconnectivity.