My fascination with this little creature started almost a decade ago when a ruby throated hummingbird appeared outside my window.
It was the day I learned my brother had passed away, very unexpectedly.
My brother was a very special guy who left this world having lived his life doing exactly what he loved to do, the way he wanted to do it! He was a Renaissance man with many talents, having an incredible zest for pursuing his interests with passion, intensity and dedication.
While after all this time, I still miss him, we were very close, I also take great solace knowing he dared to live his life doing what he wanted, living his life to the fullest. A concept that has become a mantra in my work and my life.
You may wonder what’s the connection between my brother and the hummingbird?
For starters, I don’t believe it was coincidental that the hummingbird continued to appear outside my window for the next couple of years on my brother’s birthday and the anniversary of his passing, then stopped visiting after I learned to integrate it’s message.
Because of the infrequent visits, when the hummingbird did appear, I would stop whatever I was doing and savor the beauty of its movement as it flitted from flower to flower.
I was fascinated by the bird’s unique flight pattern. It hovers then flies backwards as well as sideways and forwards, forming the shape of infinity, a symbol for eternity, rebirth, renewal, empowerment and every lasting love!
Upon reflection, I believe both my brother’s and the hummingbird’s message was to show me the way to transcend time by recognizing what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future are not nearly as important as what I am experiencing right now.
At the time of the bird’s first visit, I was constantly running from one activity, project, phone call or event to another. I had taken on a new leadership role and was feeling unsteady. Savoring the beauty of ordinary moments was out of the question. I was burnt out, full of worry about trying to prove myself, trying to be perfect, doubting my performance and subject to the constant barrage of the inner critic swirling around in my head.
Instead of taking time to slow down and explore my challenges, I buried myself in busyness. Like the proverbial energizer bunny, I kept going and going and going! But these moments of watching the hummingbird drew me in, I learned what it meant to fly backwards, hover, swing to the side and then move on.
When we fly backwards — reliving moments from our childhood, relationships, dramas of the day, yesterday, last week or even 2 years ago — it holds us back.
The hummingbird taught me not to get stuck in the past, lost in regret or long for the what was but instead use these experiences for purposes of understanding how they shaped who I am today.
By learning to step aside (fly sideways) and become the observer of my thinking and my challenges, it allowed me to see my life and fears from different perspectives and how the experiences leading up to that point in my life made me stronger.
Ultimately, I’ve been apprenticing for my role as coach and entrepreneur my entire career. I just needed to create a little space to see the common threads by viewing my experiences from different angles.
I also learned to lighten up and hover in the moment instead of rushing to the next thing. When you take time to explore your doubts, fears and even the mysterious unknown, you realize it’s never as bad your mind has made it out to be.
By learning to not to dwell on the past, fear the future and hover in the present, I learned to appreciate the sweet nectar of life.
The last and most important message my brother and the hummingbird taught me was to cherish what is and not what was.
Even though my brother has moved on, his spirit will remain in my heart forever or as Buzz Lightyear would say –“to infinity and beyond!”