I first heard the term “Bluebird of happiness” many years ago. My sales manager at the time used this term to refer to a sale that more or less lands in your lap – just comes in out of nowhere unexpectedly. I guess I have heard the phrase used a few times in other scenarios over the years since then.
Two weeks ago I bought the book, “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. This book was a spur of the moment purchase at the airport. During my flight and only 12 pages into the book I learned that there is actually a play called “The Blue Bird”. The plot of this play apparently revolves around two children that travel the world looking for the Bluebird of Happiness. They have no luck in their quest and return home and find the bird waiting for them there.
This all leads to my Indigo Bunting of Happiness story. Three weeks ago, while traveling for work in eastern North Carolina I kept seeing these blue colored birds. They would appear at the side of the road, usually flying along the edges of thick vegetation. I spotted them all while driving, and even at 60 miles per hour I could tell their blue was too vibrant to be a standard Eastern Bluebird (also a beautiful bird). I had seen Indigo Buntings a couple of times at bird feeders in the past so I guessed that this is what I was seeing along the road in eastern North Carolina.
Fast forward one week to Tuesday evening, June 19 (the same day I bought the “Happiness Project” at the airport) . I arrive at my hotel in Memphis, TN after a long day of travel. I know I should run but my mind has other ideas. I am travel weary. I have this weird tweaky thing going on with my left knee. My stomach hurts a little bit. All kinds of reasons not to run are going through my head. Fortunately though, my runner’s will power kicks in and I decide to give it a try. I will take it slow and see how it goes. “A slow run is better than no run” I tell myself.
Amazingly it turns out that there is a great park directly across the street from my hotel – Wolf River Greenway. I decide that I will run about three miles on the Greenway’s trails. These trails literally run over the river (as you might expect) and through the woods. I settle into a nice easy three mile pace, enjoying the scenery along the way. About halfway through my run I notice a quick movement in the thick brush to the right of me. I glance over and catch the stunning sight of a male Indigo Bunting sitting on a
branch not three feet away from me. I am so moved by its appearance that in mid exhale I audibly exclaim, “Wow!”. There is nobody and nothing around to hear this except me and the Indigo Bunting. This beautiful bird did not appear frightened by my presence – not even by my voice. Instead, it flicked it wings a bit, ruffled its feathers, and looked right back at me as if saying, “Yep, you know it!”.
At such a close distance, there was no mistaking that this was an Indigo Bunting. It is almost hard to describe how they look. Their blue is both vibrantly bright and deeply dark at the same time – especially depending on the light you catch them in. They are not a bird that you see very often so it is interesting that I saw a few of them in eastern North Carolina three weeks ago and then this one in Memphis, TN (over 800 miles further west) so soon after. Then, two days later, while running in the same park and while I was putting this blog post together in my head (I do some of my best rough draft writing in my head while I am running) I saw another one!
I am so glad I willed myself to get out and run that Tuesday. If I hadn’t then I would never have seen that beautiful Indigo Bunting. There were several things I was thankful for during that travel day but my encounter with the Indigo Bunting really stands out as the highlight. In that quick instance in the middle of my run my mind went from the troubles of the day to being in awe of the world around me. I felt a connection to that bird and that connection put me more in touch with everything in this world that is amazing. I needed that connection at that moment and I am thankful that it occurred. I am thankful that the Indigo Bunting appeared to me and held its ground without flying away, thus giving me a chance, even for just a second or two to be touched by its magnificence. I am also thankful that I was somehow at that moment open to seeing this bird. While I am sure I was thinking about something (even if it was just about how I was glad to be halfway through my run), I was not so lost in my thoughts that I did not notice this bird sitting nearby.
While this encounter with the Indigo Bunting is a relatively minor example, it is one of a number of serendipitous experiences that I have had over the years. I needed something to lift my spirits a little and this bird appeared to me when I was ready to see it. I am a firm believer in the thought that when you are ready for something it will appear for you as long as you are open to noticing and accepting it.
Still I wonder what there is out there in the world that I am missing because I am still closed to seeing it…experiencing it…living it. This Indigo Bunting sighting was a spirit lifter. This bird helped bring me out of a travel and work funk. But it was more than that. It was a reminder to strive to be more open to the world around me. It was a reminder to look beyond my general surroundings. It was a reminder to think about more than just myself, to think more about myself as part of this wonderful world and universe we are all part of, to think about myself as part of something much larger, to be open to the teachings of everything.
Thank you Indigo Bunting of Happiness!
Have you had any experiences like this?
What unexpected person, animal, place, or thing has brought an element of happiness into your life recently? Please feel free to share your experiences via a comment. I look forward to hearing from you!