Black-capped Chickadee

That’s Lily all over, you know: she works like a slave preparing the ground and sowing her seed; but the day she ought to be reaping the harvest she over-sleeps herself or goes off on a picnic.

Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth

This chickadee is perched in a tree outside our balcony rail. She has been trying to build a nest in a metal duct above our door for several days. I can hear her pecking away from inside the house. I assume it was her who did the same thing last year. Eventually she gave up and, I assume, moved on to a more compliant site. 

Listening to her, day after day, I can relate to her determination when I think of all the hours I have spent working to accomplish something that was clearly never going to happen. Just the conversations alone are endless. Trying to convince an alcoholic to stop drinking, someone in an abusive relationship to leave, a person with strong political views to see another side. Sometimes, folks have to reach a decision on their own, in their own time.

Unfortunately, this realization didn’t come to me until much later in life. My inclination is to persist, not to give in. If I tried hard enough and long enough, I believed I would eventually succeed in making a difference. That’s not always true. Knowing when to stop is an important lesson. Albert Einstein said,”Insanity is dong the same thing over an over and expecting different results.” Maybe it’s not insane, just futile.  There is a point where positivity meets reality. 

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