Nothing on Your Schedule

It is good to have nothing on your schedule.

By “by nothing on your schedule,” I do not mean to have no activities planned for the future, or an empty calendar. It is good to have some goals and plans for the future. We should always have some activities lined up. Because in reality, there is no life, no reality, apart from the activity we are engaged in at the present moment. Anything else is just a trace of something that once was real or might be real at some point in the future. Our activities are not only everything; they are the only thing. There is no life for you beyond whatever it is you are doing. We can hope, run, dream, and complain all we want… but we will never make it not so.

Right now you are reading this story. So for you, there is no life, no reality, other than this story! Thankfully, I have some wonderful news. This is a good life, I promise.

Instead, what I mean by “nothing on your schedule” is to have the world unfold to you in ways you are not expecting. Our expectations are a big source of our problems. We get into trouble because we want our lives to be something other than what they are. We want to be some other place. We want others to behave how we prefer. We hope for certain things, and we fear others, but we do not really know what it is we are doing, or what is actually happening around us.

We will learn much more quickly if we invite a few interruptions, distractions, roadblocks, and other small ways in which life can overwhelm us. Because then we can practice. Slowly we learn how to stop stumbling around being happy or sad as things happen to us, and instead we will just say “Oh!” to each and every thing as it appears to us. The only reasonable way to live is to love every thing, all of the time. And so we let the world surprise us instead of frustrate us. Actually, the world does not frustrate us; we only frustrate ourselves.

I have been thinking about this because, this nesting season, nothing seems to be happening according to my schedule. For example, I really struggled to monitor Jo Durt’s nest at the Causeway bridge this spring. Every time I could get over to watch and see how she was doing, the weather would be bad. And whenever it was a perfect time to go, I could not get there. And when everything would finally come together, I would find that Jo Durt was not around! As the season progressed, I began to worry that she would not be nesting this year. I was having trouble accepting that. I’m sure you know this type of feeling.

And so I pushed harder. The weather never cooperated, so I finally just stood in the rain getting soaked. The wind shook my scope so hard it made me dizzy looking through it. Enjoy this short clip of that experience. This is the first time I saw something suggesting that Jo Durt had eggs. Even the eggs were not cooperating! They were off to the far side of the igloo. I was unable to get a decent view.

But it was a huge relief to finally find some evidence of her nesting. So Kathy Clark put it into NestStory, and onto the calendar.

When it finally came time for her hatch, I found that her hatch was also not on my schedule. I was unable to get there until a week later. By the time I climbed her tower I was expecting some beautiful, 1-week-old baby falcons. But instead I found only a clutch of eggs still sitting off to the far side of the igloo. I felt disappointed, concerned, and confused.

I touched them gently to feel if they were warm. They were. Jo Durt was tending them. But they should have hatched by now. I listened carefully for tiny peeps coming from inside the eggs, and looked for small cracks in the eggshells suggesting that hatch was imminent. But there was nothing but eggs, and dashed expectations.

This is a season of many mysteries, and many dashed expectations. So we simply added this one to the long list.

Then yesterday I was out with Kathy trying to solve some Peregrine mysteries. We had just come from a very disappointing and mysterious nest failure when we decided to check on Jo Durt one more time. Our hearts were heavy and our expectations low as we climbed Jo Durt’s tower at Bonnet Island. I was very happy to have Kathy there with me.

And then, “Oh!”

Buddha Baby

As I took the first peek into the Igloo, there were four adorable newly hatched falcons who not only were no longer on my calendar, but were clearly not appearing in the world on my schedule either.

What’s best about how this all happened is that we caught the chicks at just a day or two old. Not only is it a huge treat to witness their life at such a precious start, but it is the best time to treat them for parasitic lice which can make their tiny lives miserable and even kill them.

Detailed view of parasitic lice. Treating them with a few cotton balls soaked in medication works well. But the lice are the most dangerous to the hatchlings and the treatment works best if caught early. We were very happy to catch them at this age.

So we cleaned them, marveled at them, fed them a little chicken, and put Jo Durt’s 2022 nest attempt officially into NestStory. NestStory will set their banding date and their fledge date.

I see four things I like: A pile of babies, some prey remains which we can ID, NestStory, and the reflection of a smiling Kathy Clark as she launches our Mission in NestStory.

So they will be on the calendar. But I’m pretty sure they won’t be doing their activities and living their lives on our schedule!

Thank you Kathy.

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