Life's Lessons I Learned While Sitting In The Patio
by Ruby Bayan - 2003
It's what one would call "sheer luck." We had to return to Florida on short notice because my partner was called back to take care of a new account. Site unseen, we signed up with an apartment complex that was closest to my partner's area of responsibility. We must have been in Fate's good graces because the only available unit, which had very recently been vacated rather abruptly, was on a prime spot.
In Houston, our luxury apartment had bay windows. We had a spacious balcony sheltered by tall and lush wood trees. Huge Blue Jays and squirrels kept us company as we took in the very exciting view of . . . the parking lot of a Park and Ride terminal.
This time, we got lucky. We have a corner unit next to the leasing office, so we have an excellent view of the apartment complex's focal point -- a lotus pond with a 30-foot shoot-up water fountain. Our patio walks out to the pond, so my partner and I arranged our furniture so that our worktables looked out through the patio, allowing us to gaze at nature's splendor when we're deep in thought.
The eight months that we’ve been here, watching Mother Nature's majesty as the seasons unfold, I've witnessed various sources of inspiration for life's lessons, just by sitting in the patio. I've marveled at the animal life, the plant life, and the subtle everyday events that contribute to the circle of life.
Our pond sustains its own little ecology of fishes, turtles, ducks, egrets, cormorants, and ibises. Up in the trees there are squirrels, Blue Jays, mockingbirds, blackbirds, and woodpeckers. On the ground we see outdoor cats, quail pigeons, lizards, snakes, insects, and worms.
Watching the activity around us has given me a few insights, which I'd like to consider as "life's lessons" worth sharing.
- Mind your place in the food chain. No matter how handsome a squirrel you are, to a cat, you're just another bushy-tailed rat.
- Respect each other's territory. If you don't want a dominant duck to ruffle your feathers, go find your own pond.
- No one can hide from the world forever. Even old turtles need to come out of the water to get some sun.
- Don't think something is gone just because you don't see it. The lotus disappears in winter but reappears majestically in the spring. So does the snake.
- Life's a busy street. Sometimes it will let you cross safely. Sometimes it won't hesitate to make you the next road kill.
- Trust your instincts. It will tell you when to fly south to save your life.
- Tame only those you can truly care for. Keep feeding them, and they will keep coming back to you.
- Opportunities as well as dangers present themselves everyday. Be observant. Be sensitive to signs and gestures that point to fertile feeding grounds, and to disturbances that signal the presence of predators.
- Somehow, nature compensates. Ducks fly, and swim, and float, but they walk funny.
- Vary your perspective in order to appreciate life. A good set of binoculars helps.