Brittany Prickett

04.27.15

Assumptions and the Bird Lady

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Assumptions and the Bird Lady

I am very much a creature of habit. I figure routine enables me to better use those brain cells in more creative outlets. Every morning on my way out the door, I turn the same corner past the same life-sized bush, quickly assuming the same defensive position of covering my head.

Why you may ask—does a grown woman hastily make her way to the car while holding handbags overhead?

Birds.

There are scores of birds crouched within and around that corner, and every morning as they hear me coming, they plan their ascension shooting out from a dozen hidden perches, like little flying ninjas swirling above me. I’m sure the neighbors appreciate the comedic interpretive dance to my car. But I’m afraid that one of these days the flying ninja birds might leave a present atop my head.

Not long after moving in, I peered into their little hiding spot and soon noticed the first floor apartment porch plumb full of birdfeeders, chimes, and every kind of trinket. No wonder. Someone is luring them in with snacks!

I soon made up my mind that this neighbor would now be known as the Bird Lady.
The Bird Lady with her flowery wreaths and seasonal décor.
The Bird Lady who fed all of the creatures from near and far just as Cinderella and Snow White.

Without knowing a thing about her personally, I decided what kind of person I thought she was, and I began to imagine all kinds of scenarios about the Bird Lady:
I bet she likes crafts.
I bet she has potpourri.
I saw a cat in the window, so we can check that off the list.

I decided I didn’t care too much for Bird Lady as I regularly held her responsible for interrupting my peaceful morning, a risky time in which the first round of coffee is only beginning its morning route through my veins.
That’s the funny business of assumptions: we size up a person sometimes with slivers of actual information but most often based on the formulated perceptions in our minds whose roots have no relation to a person’s actual character.

I do not fair well in this, this is not my strong suite. Because of assumptions, I have failed many times in dating, in the workplace, with my family—essentially anywhere communication is exchanged (hint: that’s every kind of relationship). I am not a big fan of confrontation; I have been known to shirk back when in a face-to-face squabble, resorting to my own preconceived ideas about what is really going on, faulty as they may be.

Fairly recently I got my hands on some solid teaching by a guy named Danny Silk, and he talked about assumptions and communication in a way that I can both appreciate and receive—with humor. It was like this, “joke, joke, scalpel, joke.”

The truth dug deep when he hit on the concept of self-management, stewarding my own heart and, regardless of what someone else will or will not do, deciding what my heart will do.
Choosing to be responsible for my half in the exchange of communication.
Choosing to combat assumptions by telling you what is going on inside of me, giving you the opportunity to tell me what’s going on inside of you. Period.
No imaginary scenarios with crafts and potpourri. No formulaic ideas without ever knowing for certain.
Because we all deserve the chance to clear the air, right? To be known without preconceived opinion.
Misconceptions can destroy relationships with made-up ideologies and fears propelling into scenarios that never actually happen. And until we get the guts to take down our masks and say, “here’s what is going on inside of me. Okay, now your turn,” we may never actually know the truth.
And what a sad thing we could lose in the process.
I’ve thought about the Bird Lady a lot this week. I bet she’s quite nicer than what I assumed in my head. So once I click this send button, I think I’ll go downstairs, say hello and find out what her real name is, and bring her a fresh loaf of bread.

Brittany Loose

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