It wouldn’t have happened a few months ago.
In the pre-pandemic days before our isolation, fear, and confusion, I never would have met Finn. I would have been too busy – too controlled by demands, errands, and schedules.
Sheltering at home, away from people and deadlines, things have changed. In other words, time has changed.
We all wait for Corona to leave – looking toward scientists to discover how to throw it under the bus. All of us together, from California to New York, Asia to Europe, and every person who walks this troubled planet.
Right now, I’m healthy and stranded in Los Angeles. My family is in New York. I can’t get on a plane since I’m at the top of the high risk group. I remain in the place I rented for a few months to get away from the New York winter, never imagining I would be here so long. Fear, uncertainty, and isolation eat away at me.
Then Finn showed up.
He’s a small, red-breasted finch with a beautiful song. One day I noticed him on the railing of my balcony. There are a lot of birds here: gulls, snowy egrets, pelicans, hummingbirds, and sleek ravens. I love watching them – the front piece to planes taking off from nearby LAX. None of them ever perch on my railing.
Finn sang a sweet song then flew off. Once he returned with another finch. After a while I noticed he would show up every day, sing his song, and fly away. I named him “Finn.”
Time shifted. People moved through the spectrum of human emotion: anxiety, depression, grief, fear, and defiance. Guns and toilet paper, strange bedfellows, are hoarded. Store shelves are as bare as our emotions.
It’s harder to remember today’s date, figure out what time you want to see that TV show, or how to get through a day devoid of work, errands, and demanding bosses. The days feel endless, focused obsessively on news as if we’re trapped in a Hollywood disaster movie.
And then there’s Finn.
He shows up, sings me a song, and leaves.
In another life, I might not have noticed. I would be too immersed in my computer, writing the latest book or blog, fighting deadlines, promoting my work, and public speaking.
Now I have time to pause and look more carefully around me. So when Finn showed, I watched.
Was it my imagination or did he look back? I tried to take a photo but he flew away. I didn’t move when he returned. Finn stayed longer.
Then I had an idea. After Finn sang his song, I replied.
The finch didn’t seem to notice how bad I chirped. I certainly didn’t sound like his buddies. Yet he turned his body toward me, tilted his head, and listened. When I stopped, he sang back.
I repeated the conversation. He sang again, hopping closer. I don’t know how long this lasted because time wasn’t part of the conversation. It was a moment where something existed beyond time, beyond the horror of a pandemic, and beyond my isolation.
That’s when I got it.
Finn showed me that we should use today to look inside and outside, feel the moment around us, and have the patience to wait out the attack on our species. We don’t know how long it will take. Time – or too much of it – can give us the chance to meet and think about the Finns in our world. His message was clear.
This too shall pass.