So…You’re Only Concrete

At times I need to understand life in the most simplistic form. Almost looking for the lowest common denominator that speaks to me in a way that even a child should understand. I don’t mean to say that it takes big letters and small syllables for me to get life but when it gets hard, when it get confusing and when hurts so bad you just want to crawl under the kitchen sink and close the doors, I try to break it down; sometimes in an anthropomorphic way.

I run. I am not a strong runner or fast runner. I don’t set goals or count my carbs for the ultimate distance. I run because it takes what I feel on the inside and makes it tangible. If the mood is good, the run is free and light. If there is conflict, the run is tough and drudging with the mind lost in thought. But I will never stop motion. Lately there have been a lot of “thinking” runs.

Yesterday I put on my running shoes and headed out the door to battle the trail and clear my mind. I reassess my choices made and people I choose to be around. And then out of nowhere I thought of something that made me stop. Not only did I stop but I sat. I sat, put my hand on my chin and closed my eyes.

I thought of a birdbath. You know, the ones made of concrete with a bird molded to the side to lure others to drink. Then I imagined this little swallow that was circling overhead trying to decide if the bath was safe to drink out of. Then he noticed there was a bird already there so it must be okay. He landed on the opposite side from the statue and stared across, finding comfort in it. He inched his way around until he was next to it. Since it didn’t fly off he took this as a sign of acceptance.


The swallow rubbed against it but there was no warmth. The conversations were one sided. His offers of seeds and worms were left untouched and even the nest built beside the concrete bird was left unshared. But the swallow needed companionship so he looked past these indifference’s and stayed put.

Through the scariest nights, the stormiest days and the coldest snow winds, the swallow stayed next to the bird. He hung on to the fact that because the bird had not flown off, the emptiness was tolerable because after all, 1% is always better than zero. But soon that 1% became became less of a comfort and more of a question.

And then the reality of the situation hit the swallow. He saw that there was really nothing there at all and his bird was only an extension of the bath ledge he was sitting on. The real gravity was the fact that through the scariest nights, the stormiest days and the coldest winds he was really…just alone. So he flew off, gaining nothing and leaving nothing.

I suppose many would say that the swallow was just stupid for not seeing that the bird was concrete. Not me. I believe that time and situation control many of our actions and though they may not make sense to many, they make sense to us. There is something to be said for knowing when it’s time.


  1. I hope I don’t offend you by saying this, but…I didn’t know you had it in you. Wow. What a remarkable post. Thanks so much for sharing this moment with us.

  2. “The real gravity was the fact that through the scariest nights, the stormiest days and the coldest winds he was really…just alone. So he flew off, gaining nothing and leaving nothing.”

    I’m thinking about the child who does not know that their parent has let go of the back of the bicycle and they are riding on their own, no training wheels, no help… Kid might fall out of a sense of betrayal when they realize someone let go without saying – but damn if it doesn’t feel good to know that you really can ride that bike on your own…

    This bird, it seems to me, has not gained nothing. This bird has proven that he can handle pretty much anything Nature dishes out at birds and survive it all by himself. This bird “knows when its time”. This is a pretty cool bird… : )

    Lovely post, Will.

  3. Boy, did I need this today. Thank you.


  4. “believe that time and situation control many of our actions and though they may not make sense to many, they make sense to us.”

    If only people learned this from the get-go. Lots of heartache and suffering could be cured if people just shut their mouths and opened their minds once in a while.

  5. Yeah, I agree with that too. My whole take on regret is that if I know what the right thing to do is, but I still make a bad decision, then regret is warranted. But, if I weigh all my options and make what I believe to be the best decision at the time, the rest is fate. No regrets, no matter how much hindsight shows me later on down the road. All you can do is learn and move on.

  6. Soooo… is it indeed time?

  7. Beautifully written and can only disagree on one point: “So he flew off, gaining nothing and leaving nothing.”

    I’m sure if the bird looked a little harder, he’d realize how much he learned and the great impact he had on others the short time he was there. Something is ALWAYS gained and something is always left behind. There is value in every experience.

  8. I totally get the bird analogy. I think the concrete is better then some people because it can’t hurt you. But knowing that there is a heartbeat in something you love is so important.

  9. I’m glad you wrote this, it makes me feel like I’m not as dumb as I sometimes think I am.
    I have had many concrete birds in my life – I once made the analogy of a salt shaker – but salt is too functional to be appropriate, concrete is a better example.

  10. I run almost every day as well. It’s one of the few things that clears my head and gives me perspective.

    But I’m also lucky because I came across something else that does wonders for me. Sometimes, when I feel overwhelmed and want to just say “screw it” (which happens more than I’d like it to lately), I click on this link:

    Works for me everytime.


  11. So you’re saying you’re the water that the birds all come around to? ….or the birdbath itself? Or wait….are you the seasons that the birds sit through???

    Just kidding.

    Lovely post, and a great way of putting it. Sounds like you’ve reached that point that you’ve been feeling around for. Well done!

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