I Saw a Woman Eating in the Woods…the Secret Lives of Bulimics

girl in woodsThe other day, while walking my dog on a wooded trail, I noticed a young woman sitting on a rock, half hidden by trees, eating with a plastic fork. She didn’t look up as I passed; in fact, she turned her head away. Next to her was a backpack, which was clearly not empty.

I didn’t recognize the woman, despite the fact that I walk in that area quite frequently. She was attractive and dressed in casual, fashionable clothing. Most people, seeing her, would probably assume she was a student or office worker, just trying to find a little peace in this crazy, busy world.

And perhaps that was the case. But as I continued on my walk, my mind was flooded with memories of times when I ate like that–privately, carrying food to secret places–so no one would know I was binging on stuff I’d later purge. I recalled the many times I told friends at work that I had errands to do on my lunch break, when my only real errand involved going to the grocery store. Then I’d take the junk food I’d bought to a quiet place where I’d eat it, and hurry back to the office so I could vomit as inconspicuously as possible in the bathroom.

Even now–even after bulimia has been in my past for almost twenty years and I’ve written a novel, called Leaving the Beach, about a bulimic woman–I find it embarrassing to talk about that stuff. I wish so badly that none of it were true, and that I’d been a normal eater all my life. But seeing that woman in the woods reminded me of how sneaky and secretive bulimics are about their disease. And how skilled most of them are at hiding it, even from their closest friends and family members.

I know this because I kept my bulimia a secret for fifteen years. During that time, I had wonderful parents, caring siblings, great friends, and various boyfriends. But none of them knew I was bulimic until I told someone–my future husband–and got help.

Why? Well, that’s the point of this post. Because secrecy is an integral part of bulimia, just as itchy red welts are an integral part of measles. Therefore, if someone close to you is suffering from bulimia, there’s little chance they’ll tell you about it unless they’re so sick that they don’t know what else to do. But if you know what you’re looking for, you may be able to detect some warning signs and get them help before things get out of hand and/or the person does serious harm to their body. So here are some of those warning signs, courtesy of NEDA’s website. NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) is an amazing, non-profit organization.

Warning Signs of Bulimia Nervosa

  • Evidence of binge eating, including disappearance of large amounts of food in short periods of time or finding wrappers and containers indicating the consumption of large amounts of food.
  • Evidence of purging behaviors, including frequent trips to the bathroom after meals, signs and/or smells of vomiting, presence of wrappers or packages of laxatives or diuretics.
  • Excessive, rigid exercise regimen–despite weather, fatigue, illness, or injury, the compulsive need to “burn off” calories taken in.
  • Unusual swelling of the cheeks or jaw area.
  • Calluses on the back of the hands and knuckles from self-induced vomiting.
  • Discoloration or staining of the teeth.
  • Creation of lifestyle schedules or rituals to make time for binge-and-purge sessions.
  • Withdrawal from usual friends and activities.
  • In general, behaviors and attitudes indicating that weight loss, dieting, and control of food are becoming primary concerns.
  • Continued exercise despite injury; overuse injuries.

But I’ll leave you on a good note, because I’m hoping all the recent talk in the media about EDs is making a difference. The other day, someone directed me to this article in Glamour in which Zosia Mamet, of the HBO program GIRLS, came out and admitted that she’s currently dealing with an eating disorder. And while my heart goes out to her, I’m also blown away by her courage to talk about her illness while she’s still in recovery.

I hope Ms. Mamet will continue to get better, and also hope her bravery will inspire other people to talk to people they trust about their eating disorders. Because help is out there. It’s readily available and there are numerous ways to get it, even if you don’t think you can afford it. NEDA can help with that, and a lot of other things too. Communication is the key. Let’s really get eating disorders out of the woods and into the open.

 

 

 

 

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Author JT Twissel on Books, Sin City North, the CIA…and much more!!!

JanToday, I’m very lucky to have JT Twissel (author  of Flipka and The Graduation Present) here to chat on the blog. Two weeks ago, I went on a beach vacation and really enjoyed reading The Graduation Present on the sand. It’s a hilarious and unpredictable book, and I highly recommend it.

Mary: So JT, as I was just saying, I loved your novel, The Graduation Present for various reasons. It’s so funny, and it kept surprising me in all the best ways. Just when I thought one thing was going to happen, the story would take a sharp and unexpected turn. It also seemed to combine more than one genre, which kept me on my toes too. What genre would you say The Graduation Present best inhabits.

JT: Thanks Mary! I think “coming of age” is probably the best way to categorize GP. The main character/narrator is a neurotic nitwit at the beginning of the book and towards the end she’s beginning to mature. At least, I hope she comes across that way. I did my thesis on the works of Jane Austen and so I’m very drawn to themes of young women confronting the world for the first time with many “prejudices.” Riley, for example, assumes that Gil, the young man she’s attracted to, has certain prejudices against her because she is young and naive (and always getting herself into trouble).

Mary: In The Graduation Present, we learn a little bit about the home life of your protagonist, Riley. Would you tell us a bit about your youth/childhood and where you grew up?

JT: I spent my so-called “formative” years in Reno Nevada, or, as it is often called, Sin City North (Sin City South being Vegas). My father was a professor at the university, however many of the kids I grew up were the children of “pit” bosses at the casino. So I learned from an early age not to judge people because of what they did for a living. I’ll always be grateful for that experience.

In high school I struggled to find the right crowd to fit into until I had an epiphany and realized – it really didn’t matter. I began wearing costumes to school, (my favorite was a Dr Zhivago shirt, plaid kilt, green tights and green Robin Hood boots) listening to Indian Ragas and reading everything from science fiction and fantasy to Look Homeward Angel. I formed my own band of equally untalented guitarists and embarrassed myself by warbling protest songs off-key in front of the entire student body. My mother, “ironing board lady,” would probably tell you I was a handful.

Mary: Wow, I wish I’d gone to your high school. I would’ve wanted to hang out with you! So here’s another question–and feel free to skip it if you’d like–but I’d love to know if Uncle Bob (a main character in The Graduation Present) really works for the CIA. Or is that something readers need to figure out for themselves?

JT: My uncle worked for the Department of the Army Civilians which was believed by the locals to be an arm of the CIA. My uncle would just laugh off any suggestion that he was at all involved with covert affairs. To this day, I have no idea.

Mary: Oh! So you got the idea for Uncle Bob’s job from a real uncle. And yet, you say in your author notes that his personality is nothing like the personality of your actual Uncle Bob. Therefore, is the character of Uncle Bob in the novel based on someone else in your life, a combination of people, or is he totally imaginary?

JT: The Uncle Bob character is totally imaginary and not at all like my Uncle Ralph. Wink.

Mary: I see. Now did you, like Riley, spend time in Europe after college? And if so, what experience there was most memorable?

JT: Yes – I spent almost a year living in Germany and traveling around Europe. My most memorable experience was singing Ode to Joy on New Years Eve with thousands of other college age kids while watching fireworks explode over Heidelberg Castle. It was a glorious experience.

Mary: That sounds pretty amazing. Now you’ve also published another book called Flipka. What’s Flipka about, and do you think it will appeal to the same readers who enjoy The Graduation Present?

JT: Of course, I, as the writer have no idea what will appeal to readers! I know I was supposed to have studied my potential market in detail before I even wrote the darned things but alas I didn’t. Flipka, a rather wacky mystery set in Nevada, seems to appeal equally to men and women, which was a surprise. However, since The Graduation Present contains an element of romance, I don’t think it will appeal as much to men.

Mary: Well I don’t know about that. I know that when I finished reading The Graduation Present, I told my husband I thought he’d like it too. And honestly, I think it will appeal to many male readers. The male characters in the story are so well developed and interesting, especially Uncle Bob, Charlie, and Lou. I found all of them fascinating. But moving on, what can you tell us about your new book?

JT: I’ve got one book currently at the editor’s which is basically the story of a woman’s trial by fire, thus it’s a dark comedy. I’m keeping my sanity by working on Flipka 2, Return to Echoing Water. Absurd comedy is how I stay centered.

Mary: That’s really impressive, JT. Flipka is high on my to-read list, and I’ll be looking forward to the sequel, as well as the dark comedy. It’s very cool that you can write comfortably in various genres. So where can people buy your books? Do you prefer to sell through your own website? Are they available in any bookstores? On Amazon?

JT: I don’t even know how to sell books through my website! As far as I know Amazon and Barnes and Noble are the only place they’re being sold.

Mary: I understand that! People keep telling me I should sell books on my website, but I wouldn’t know where to start. So what’s something you’d like the world (or at least my blog readers) to know about JT Twissel?

JT: I don’t bite!

Mary: Oh good! And thank you for sending this picture of your kitty and his friend who-sadly–aren’t allowed to play together. KittyandSquirrel

Also where can we find you on social media?

JT:  blog: http://www.jttwissel.com

tweeter: @jttwissel

I’m not really that active on Facebook or Pinterest. I do post free reads on Wattpad http://www.wattpad.com/user/JTTwissel – poems, excerpts of stories and even a wacky musical called CodeSlingers, The Musical.

Thanks much for hosting me, Mary! Best of luck with both books!

Mary: Thank YOU, JT! This has been a really fun interview! Best of luck with all your books as well!

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Guest Blog: Ali Jordahl Talks about Wattpad

wattpad logoToday, I’m very excited to have a guest blogger, Ali Jordahl. Ali’s an incredibly talented high school writer from New England. I asked her to talk about Wattpad a bit, because she’s been using it for a while, and a lot of writers I’ve spoken with aren’t quite sure how it works. So if you’re curious about Wattpad, I think you’ll find this post very helpful.

Thank you so much, Ali for taking the time to share your insight with other writers!!!

Writing is something I’ve always loved to do! I love creating stories, and I’m constantly thinking up new plot ideas, new characters, and new stories. As a teenager, I find that my entire focus point is on schoolwork for the majority of the year (even now, I am reading, writing, and studying for my classes in the fall).

I did, however, find a website that changed the way I saw writing. A few years ago a friend of mine recommended I look at Wattpad.com. Wattpad is an e-book community in which users can post stories for other users to read. Each chapter can be voted for and commented on by other users.  This gave me endless opportunities for my writing! I wasted no time in starting my first Wattpad story.

Wattpad is its own little community – except this community is huge! There are users who are famous because of extremely popular stories they have written with millions of views, comments, and votes. Recently, Sourcebooks has begun recruiting those popular writers who already have millions of followers (followers are notified whenever the person they’re following posts a new chapter) and publishing their work. These writers have written these popular stories in as short as a month.

My experience on Wattpad has not led me to have hundreds of thousands of followers. I do, however, have 163 followers to date. I have three teen fiction books in progress on Wattpad, plus a poetry book. I update chapters when I can, although it’s sometimes hard to find time to write. The more regularly you update, the more readers you get.

That was the catch! The motivation was there, but suddenly I had readers waiting, putting pressure on me. I loved the feedback I was receiving, but it was an entirely different world than that of an author. I was posting my story chapter by chapter. It wasn’t possible for me to edit out a plot point, change someone’s name, etc. without messing up the story for my readers.

There are pros and cons when I use Wattpad. For instance, Wattpad has helped me to majorly develop my writing. I know I’m not the best writer in the world, but adding to those same stories I started three years ago has allowed me to see how much my writing has changed. I’ve learned what my target audience for my stories likes and dislikes. Wattpad even gave me the idea to start my own blog in which I can exercise my writing skills weekly with blog posts.

Wattpad also, however, becomes too much at times. I am writing my three stories simultaneously on Wattpad, plus a fantasy story that I’m working on that is not published on Wattpad. The story off of Wattpad is actually the longest, coming in at around 130 pages written so far. I get bored easily with one story, so having more than one to work on is advantageous, but having four to manage and add on to can be hard.

Wattpad most certainly isn’t for everyone, but it is an amazing way to get noticed and establish a fan base for an author. Many of my favorite authors have accounts in which they connect with readers and post the beginning chapters of their books, telling fans to buy their book to read the rest of the story. I recently posted on Gennifer Albin’s message board (the author of Crewel), telling her how much I loved her book. She actually replied the next day, thanking me for my support! That simple connection inspired me to look to see if she had published a sequel to Crewel. I will now be buying the next two books as soon as I can. Through a simple connection, she inspired two book sales – without having to spend a dime on promotion! This type of instant publicity is great for authors like her who have a teen audience – the vast majority of Wattpad users are teens and young adults. I recommend it for any author trying to establish a fan base with teens.

The one thing I can tell you about my experience with Wattpad is that my work is being read and enjoyed. I don’t have a book published (yet), but I do have my writing on the internet, being read by people every day. I have developed more as a result of exposure to other writers my age and readers interested in the type of book I am writing. That exposure has brought me so much more confidence with my writing, and has helped me (and is still helping me) to become a better writer!

In addition to writing, Ali likes to act, sing, dance, play the piano, and, of course, read. You can find her work on Wattpad under the username “writeforfun”. Ali also has a  blog, Once Upon a Time, that she updates with posts centered around reading and writing. Take a look at Ali’s blog at onceuponatimeblog.weebly.com

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A Nod to the Screenwriters who Wrote for Robin Williams

Robin_Williams_2011a_(2)When it comes to actors, Robin Williams was about as perfect as they come. If an actor’s job is to breathe humanity into a character who starts out as nothing more than words on a page, then Mr. Williams did it better than almost anyone.

How many times have you seen a movie and quickly forgotten who played the leading roles? You remember the story, but can only recall that the lead male actor was one of those handsome, brown-haired guys with pretty eyes and a strong chin who resembled a handful of other handsome, brown-haired guys with pretty eyes and strong chins.

That was never the case with Robin Williams. He fully inhabited every role he ever played, to the point where no one could’ve imagined anyone else taking his place. Who but Williams could’ve played Mrs. Doubtfire, or John Keating in Dead Poets Society, or Sean Maguire in Good Will Hunting, or Adrian Cronauer in Good Morning, Vietnam, or T.S. Garp in The World According to Garp? And those are just a few of his remarkably memorable characters.

Look no further than social media and the thousands of quotes from Williams’ movies that people have posted as memorials to get a sense of how deeply the man moved everyone who experienced his performances. I also have no doubt–no doubt at all–that when Robin Williams was handed a movie script, he did a lot of editing and improvising. Just as Frank Sinatra brought his unique style and personality to every song he sang (although he didn’t get writing credits for most of them) Robin Williams brought fully developed characters to life while adding a healthy dose of Robin Williams to every single one of them. His gift was enormous, and his capacity to share it with the world truly amazing.

And yet, every time I read one of those quotes from his movies, I can’t help thinking about the writers who originally imagined the characters Williams played, and wrote many of the words he spoke on screen. I wonder about the thrill Matt Damon and Ben Affleck–who first became famous for writing Good Will Hunting–must’ve felt when they saw Williams turning the words they’d written into celluloid history. And let’s not forget Mitch Markowitz who wrote Good Morning Vietnam, Tom Schulman who penned Dead Poets Society, and Randi Mayem Singer and Leslie Dixon, who wrote the screenplay for Mrs. Doubtfire, which was based on a novel by Anne Fine. And we have John Irving to thank for the novel The World According to Garp, which was then brilliantly adapted for the screen by Steve Tesich.

Of course, there are so many others–too many to list here–but I think it’s important to pay tribute to those wonderful writers who provided Williams with at least some of the material that he turned into his own brand of magic. I can’t imagine what an honor it must’ve been to know that Robin Williams had been cast in a movie you’d written, but I also believe that Williams–with his generous spirit–would’ve wanted us to make sure that those writers were remembered too.

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The Fine Line Between Fitness and Orthorexia

woman looking at mountainsOrthorexia—have you heard of it? I hadn’t until a couple of weeks ago. Or maybe I should say that I’d never heard the word orthorexia. But then an issue of Fitness magazine showed up in my mailbox. I have no idea why, or where it came from—there was no mailing label on it. It was just there.

Now normally, I avoid magazines like Fitness, because back in the days when I was anorexic and bulimic, I subscribed to Runner’s World, and pored over articles about new diets and better workouts with almost religious fervor. These days, it’s my goal to eat well and exercise moderately without getting obsessive about anything. So I was about to toss the issue of Fitness into the recycle bin when one of the headlines on the cover caught my eye. It said, “When Being Healthy Turns Harmful.” I couldn’t resist taking a look.

It turned out to be a really great, informative article about orthorexia, and if you’d like to read the entire thing, it’s called “Are You Too Healthy for Your Own Good?” and is written by Elizabeth Zeman (Fitness, July/August 2014). So what is orthorexia? Well, it’s an eating disorder that affects people (mainly women) in their 20s, 30s and 40s. In a nutshell, orthorexics are people who believe they’re being ultra healthy, but are actually doing real harm to their bodies by exercising too much and/or dangerously limiting their diet. Unfortunately, it’s a difficult condition to diagnose because people—especially Americans—are constantly being told to exercise and eat well. But with orthorexia, moderation has been lost, and the person who seems to be the picture of health is actually spinning out of control.

According to the NEDA website (National Eating Disorders Association) the term orthorexia was coined by Dr. Steven Bratman, who became orthorexic and wrote a book about it called Health Food Junkies: Orthorexia Nervosa–the Health Food Eating Disorder. The term orthorexia literally means, “fixation on righteous eating.” Here’s a quote from Dr. Bratman. “I pursued wellness through healthy eating for years, but gradually I began to sense that something was going wrong.  The poetry of my life was disappearing.  My ability to carry on normal conversations was hindered by intrusive thoughts of food.  The need to obtain meals free of meat, fat, and artificial chemicals had put nearly all social forms of eating beyond my reach.  I was lonely and obsessed. … I found it terribly difficult to free myself.  I had been seduced by righteous eating.  The problem of my life’s meaning had been transferred inexorably to food, and I could not reclaim it.”  (Source:www.orthorexia.com)

Another insidious thing about orthorexia is that it sneaks up on people. Ask any anorexic when she first started depriving herself of food, and she can probably pinpoint the general time period in her life. And almost every bulimic can tell you the first time she vomited or used laxatives to purge. But with orthorexia, it happens gradually. A woman might start running a few miles a day to get healthy, and her friends and family will commend her. “So,” she’ll think, “if a few miles is good, then more will be even better.” The next thing she knows, she’s training for a marathon. But since she’s not feeling terrific or running as fast as she’d like, she begins eliminating certain foods from her diet, or adding large amounts of other foods, believing they will help her achieve her desired results. Again, her friends will often tell her she’s “so disciplined” and “a role model” when in fact, she’s losing the ability to eat intuitively, which includes stopping when she feels full. This can lead to serious health and social problems. People with orthorexia will often skip social engagements because their preferred foods won’t be available, or because attending the engagement will cause them to forego their exercise routine. And it’s easy to see how all of this can contribute to depression.

So how can you tell if you’re becoming orthorexic? According to NEDA, eating healthy is great, but you may have a problem if 1) food is taking up an inordinate amount of time and attention in your life; 2) deviating from your diet is met with guilt and self-loathing; and/or 3) your diet is used to avoid life issues and leaves you separate and alone. There’s a lot more helpful info about orthorexia on the NEDA page here.

Also, at the end of the article in Fitness, there’s a helpful guide that describes some of the differences between a healthy lifestyle and orthorexia. The following is taken directly from that article:

Healthy: You sleep through your alarm and don’t have time to do the tempo run on your half-marathon training schedule, so you do it when you get home from work.

Obsessive: You sleep through your alarm and don’t have time to do the tempo run on your half-marathon schedule, but you do it anyway, show up late for work and miss an important meeting.

Healthy: You eat a decadent dessert at a friend’s birthday dinner and think, “Well, at least I worked out today!”

Obsessive: You eat a decadent dessert at a friend’s birthday dinner and think, “That’s the last time I’m eating out with friends!”

Healthy: You’re so into your new high-protein, low-carb diet that you think about it all the way to the grocery store.

Obsessive: You’re so into your new high-protein, low-carb diet that you think about it during sex.

Healthy: You have no time to cook, so you scan a takeout menu, attempting to choose something that isn’t a total fat and calorie bomb.

Obsessive: You have no time to cook, so you scan a takeout menu, attempting to calculate the exact number of calories and fat grams in each option.

Healthy: You strain a quad in Spinning class, so you take a week off before getting back in the saddle.

Obsessive: You strain a quad in Spinning class, so you ice it, heat it, wrap it, pop some ibuprofen and get back in the saddle the next day.

The good news is, orthorexics can recover. NEDA says that although orthorexia isn’t usually diagnosed by doctors, professional help is often necessary. And choosing a practitioner skilled in eating disorders is the best choice.

And one last thing. Although I hope neither you nor anyone close to you is suffering from orthorexia, please do seek help if you suspect it in yourself. And if it’s a friend who may be suffering, be aware that she—similar to people with anorexia and bulimia—may be in denial of her problem or not want to get help for it. Therefore, confronting her directly is almost always the wrong approach. Instead, the article in Fitness suggests asking your friend to get a medical evaluation. Tell her you care about her and don’t want her to be sick, and offer to go to the evaluation with her.

OK? Now here’s to staying healthy. Moderation is key!

 

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So Much Fun–I Was a Guest on an Upgrade Your Story Podcast!

upgrade your story with mary rowenToday’s post is an audio post, as I was lucky enough to be a guest on the wonderful Ally Bishop’s podcast series called Upgrade Your Story. We chatted about all kinds of things, including books, authors, music, eating disorders, and so much more. Listen in if you have time!

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Sharing the Vision–One Pair of Binoculars at a Time

caspian ternIf you’re a music lover of a certain age, you’ve probably been to a few—or more than a few—rock concerts during which more than just good energy was being passed around. You know what I mean. You’d be standing there getting lost in some amazing vocal or instrumental performance when you’d feel a tap on the arm. Perhaps it startled you a bit, but when you’d turn, someone would be there, offering a hit of whatever they were smoking. Inviting you—a perfect stranger— something they valued in exchange for nothing but a smile and perhaps a word or two of thanks.

Of course, the decision to partake was always up to you, but if you’re anything like me, you at least appreciated the gesture. There was something special and communal about being offered to participate in someone else’s enhanced experience. It made me feel part of some larger reality, even if I declined.

I’m speaking in the past tense, though, because although I still get out to rock shows with some regularity, I haven’t been offered a joint at one of them in a while. Sure, people continue to smoke pot at shows—especially outdoor ones—but I haven’t witnessed people passing it around like they used to. That’s probably got a lot to do with the cost of marijuana these days, fear of getting in trouble, and perhaps also a concern about catching some communicable virus.

So last weekend, when my husband and I went out to see Jeff Tweedy at the Portsmouth Music Hall—a terrific performance, by the way, featuring Jeff’s son Spencer on drums—I was surprised to feel that familiar tap on my right shoulder during one of the first songs. We were sitting in the balcony, and when my eyes followed the tap, I saw the man next to me offering…a pair of binoculars.

Which turned out to be an extremely kind gesture. I’d been squinting through my glasses for a while, trying to get a better look at what was going on below, and although the sound was great, my eyes were feeling the strain and missing a lot. “Thank you,” I said to the guy, taking the binoculars and checking out the scene. Suddenly, everything was so much clearer. The expressions on the musicians’ faces; the details of their clothing and instruments; the chemistry between them. I didn’t bogart the binoculars for long—only a minute or two—but having that clearer vision enhanced the entire concert for me. Better than marijuana? Well, that’s a subjective thing, but I’d have to say yes.

Later on that evening, I remembered something similar that’d occurred a few months earlier. It was a chilly spring day and I’d been walking the dog around a reservoir near my home. This particular reservoir is a well-known haven for rare birds, and also a great spot for exercising dogs. And, as you might imagine, there often exists a certain tension between the “dog people” and the bird watchers. Anyway, on that day, an inordinate number of bird watchers were out, and they all seemed focused on one thing. There was lots of whispering and pointing going on, but all I could see was what appeared to be a typical assortment of ducks, geese, and a couple of seagulls in and around the water. Finally, I asked one man what was up. He hurriedly explained that one of the creatures sitting on a rock in the middle of the reservoir was a sea bird called a Caspian tern, and it was very far from its home. Most likely, it was sick or in trouble, and everyone was feeling helpless while also marveling at the appearance of the bird.

“Which one is it?” I asked, as there were several birds on the rock.

“The one with the bright red bill,” said the man. But I wasn’t wearing glasses, and despite much squinting, couldn’t distinguish anything exceptional or even red.

Meanwhile, my dog—who doesn’t have much interest in birds—was standing by quietly, but I could tell that some of the birders didn’t approve of his presence. So I began to move on, feeling sorry for the poor bird. But just then, the bird watcher I’d spoken to called out to me, “Would you like to borrow my binoculars for a second? Just so you can see him?”

I stopped, realizing that for some reason, I did want to see the bird. “Yes,” I said. “Thank you.” The man handed me his binoculars and I was amazed at the beauty of the creature. He was smaller than the seagulls, but his feathers were pure white, he had a little black crest on his head, and his beak was fire engine red. “He’s gorgeous,” I said. “Isn’t there some way to help him?”

The man shook his head as I returned his binoculars and said we could only hope the bird would get better on its own before it died of hunger. All evening, I thought about that lovely displaced creature and wished for its recovery. Of course, there was nothing I could do about it, but I felt so much more connected to it after having seen it.

What’s the point of this post? I’m not exactly sure. It’s got something to do with sharing our vision, and helping people we don’t necessarily know, and remembering that we’re all part of a crazy world that many of us can’t see clearly a lot of the time. I know I’ll be eternally grateful to those two strangers who shared their binoculars with me for no reason other than kindness, and I hope I can follow their example some day.

 

 

 

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