On Birds, Themes, & Collections

Last year immediately following the separation I was filled with a surge of energy, confidence, and exhiliration. I felt completely empowered and in control of my life for the first time in a long time. This faded away a couple of months in, but not until I worked through a few things. For the first time in my life, I was attracted to self-help books and the like and was determined to get things in order or at least to a state I was content with. I took it out on my house. Armed with a copy of Karen Kingston’s “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui” I ripped through the house bagging and tossing ruthlessly (a process which was actually driven to an absolutey frenzy in April with a garage sale and has since fizzled out). It was while reading the book though that I came across one of the most interesting anecdotes I’ve read in a book. Kingston was talking about collections and described a woman she was working with. After the initial walkthrough Kingston asked the woman “What’s with the ducks?” and the woman looked at her completely baffled. Kingston had noticed the woman had incorporated ducks into practically every inch of her home. The woman hadn’t even noticed.

This story completely amused me. I love collections. I love seeing them and pondering them. And I have always found it to be true the most interesting and wonderful collections are either completely unintentional, like the duck woman, or without purpose– aka, not looking to make a buck. Well, I walked around my house taking it in wondering what theme would rise before me and boom! Birds. Mind you, I was clearly nowhere near the obssessed stage of the duck woman but I really liked birds. On my art wall, if I have 12 pieces, 8 have birds. In my foyer hangs one printed canvas and it features a blackbird among a shock of brilliant flowers. There were birds on my t-shirts and on at least one purse. I have a wind-up bird toy and bird Christmas ornaments. And most telling of all, there were birds on my comforter and throw pillow.

Finding the birds was an experience. I was glad no one was with me because it really caused me to do some reflecting. A lot of the stuff with bird motifs I’d begun acquiring about the middle of the marriage, a point where I’d already contemplated leaving ExMutant more than once, felt incredibly stifled with my life situation, and was deeply unsatisfied. I’ve never had a keen interest in birds. I think they’re pretty to look at and I’ve often considered perhaps having one as a pet but that’s about it. I’ve never really looked into birds, learned the different species, songs, etc. So, I’m pretty convinced this collection was pretty much born from a subconscious symbolic significance. Lightness, freedom, flight, cheeriness. These are the things I associate with birds. Also, nesting works well for me as the collection sprung very much in my own heavy nesting period in life. I think these are the things I wanted more than anything and so I looked to images of birds to bring them into my home. Now, I don’t necessarily seek out birds intentionally, but I am keenly aware I am still attracted their imagery– swooning over jewelry that incorporates them, intrigued by various decor items featuring the bird motif, even contemplating a tattoo with a bird design.

Most recently, I’ve considered taking a bird as a pet because my children are driving me batty for a pet. I loathe dogs, my son is seriously allergic to cats, and I’m afraid I’d kill more fish than sustain them in a tank. I’m sort of conflicted about having a bird as a pet however. Considering that flight and freedom are two characteristics I really admired, I can’t help but think it’d be tragic to have one in my home. Then again, I know of many people who train birds, hand-feed them, and routinely let birds out of their cages to freely fly around so I haven’t ruled it out either. I’ve also considered doing things in my backyard to attract the bluejays that often hang out and the cardinals that pop up during Winter.

What about you? Have you ever looked at what treasures lie in your home? What themes you seem to surround yourself with?

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