I asked a question on twitter the other day
The answers were interesting (and thank you by the way if you commented on that thread), ranging from following your heart, to considering the ripples of its effect on other people to attempting to live with no regrets (in both a positive and a negative sense) and finally landing in a place where most could agree, that of listening to your gut and keying into your instinctive first decision.
All this makes perfect sense when read through: listen to yourself, consider pros and cons and effects on those you love and then check against the list of objectives and goals you have set for your own life and a decision pops out of it like the time to have a gin on one of those flow charts. And that is where it falls down for me.
Until just a few short years ago my yardsticks for a life well lived were so very different. Foreshortened by an upbringing that considered nothing more important than a job and partner for life and a pension to ease your later years. This, when anchored in pre and post war Britain made perfect sense to my parents. They considered that they did nothing wrong in clipping my wings, and urging me to seek security not risk, urging me to know where I would roost each night like a barn hen because who knew when the fox would come calling again?
Except I am not a hen. I never was. I am a hawk sitting uncomfortably amid the hens, conscious of their blood and pulsing life which is calling to me to take them by the throat and bite hard. Constantly longing for the treetops and the long view. Tired of the scratch and petty peck of the everyday grubbing in the ground.
The desire to fly was so strong in me it wound me tight as I paced the hallways and garden of my house, fettered by responsibility to those I had created, brought into the world and loved beyond words. But my hooked nose always gave me away, my broody hen disguise would occasionally slip causing those who saw to gasp and move away instinctively. My hawk, suppressed for so long, teased by the trees that surrounded her, and longing for the freedom to soar would break free and cause panic and alarm in the hen house. She could never get far though, fettered by wings that could not push down and hard enough to elevate much beyond the first low branches and there, watching the devastation and upset wrought by her sudden eruption she would return cowed, ashamed, beaten and blamed.
Eventually I learned to live as a hen for those I loved, but I so wanted them to love me for the hawk I was.
This hen/hawk split is a comical image I know but it engages with something important to me now. Namely with which part do I make the decisions that currently assail me in the early hours of the morning with their insistent requirement that I choose, decide, act and live with the consequences? I admire those that feel they can say, I have put others first all my life now is my time for myself like my twitter and blog friend lapsedcatholic , the clarity of that appeals to me but I cannot say I have devoted my life and therefore can choose to put myself first now In some ways I feel I have slept through those years. No, not slept, but not quite been there, since such a vital part of me had to be hidden. This leaves me confused, my disguise became me, I became that hen who needed external safety to be safe. Who could not risk a trip to the fresh grass beyond the coop fence. Who did not ever lift my head to see the trees above that would offer the long view and in that respect I feel I have also shortchanged my children as I see hawks in at least two of them.
Things changed when someone came into my life who saw the hawk in me, called to her and helped me to grow her wings again. Who called me to sit on His arm, to return there to roost each evening and not to a hen coop, who invites me to fly, to explore, to sit on a tall branch and return to Him with tales of what I have seen.
Who assures me that my hen heart – because that is now part of me now too – is not the part to have in the driver’s seat of my life – for that job you need someone who can see many more options than a well-pecked yard.
You need a hawk.