My friend gave me an ugly bird. (I’m not sure that she thought it was ugly, so I could be causing great offence here and hmmm, she may read this…stay with me, it was a great gift!) It’s not the ugliest little ceramic bird there ever was, but it is an unfortunate mottled shade of green, somewhere between lime and puce. Mushy pea green? Lakeweed green? Something fungal? But, I loved it straight away, despite all that. I even placed it by my bathroom taps, right where I wash my hands and brush my teeth every day. Hello, Ugly Bird, I’d think as I gave it a nod.
Not too long after she gave me the ugly bird, perhaps a few months, some things happened……Great things. Things I had been hoping for. Really, really, fantastic things.
Now, I don’t know about you but this can be something of a problem for me. I know, I know. It sounds ridiculous. Ridiculous and ungrateful. I’m hoping that in being honest someone might stick their hand up and admit – that happens to me too! It can feel strange when great things happen, don’t you agree? A slinky kind of guilt can sneak up, start whispering in your ear ‘You don’t really deserve it, you know’ and you nod, I know. It feels uncomfortable. Attention, praise, gifts, wishes coming true. Like a sparkling, fabulous birthday party you want to hide out from. Why? Surely, I, I?!, do not deserve it. That’s exactly when I really started to notice that ugly bird.
The ugly bird stared up at me while I stared in the mirror deciding I wasn’t good enough for good things to happen to. Its little beak lifted to my face as I frowned and I worried. Sometimes, in those self-doubting moments, I glanced down. Damn, I love that ugly bird, I’d think. And somehow, something in my mind broke away and started down a new path. A curious path, previously unpaved. If the ugly bird deserved to be loved, deserved to be cherished….couldn’t I? I took in its mottling, its green-ness, it’s delightful lack of attractiveness. What did it do to deserve the smile I gave it when it caught my eye? Nothing. It was just The Ugly Bird. And it was perfect.
Surely everyone has an ugly bird in their lives? Maybe it is in your wardrobe. Perhaps a favourite cardigan. Maybe it is a throw on your lounge or a print you were given. Maybe it is a favourite mug. Or even a pet. Ugly, broken and mismatched. Someone else’s junk, your personal treasure. Out-of-place, un-pretty and adored. Loved, not in spite of being imperfect but because of being imperfect. Worthy of good things, like being kept, being cuddled, being cherished not for any other reason than being just the way it is. Don’t you have a beloved ugly bird?
What I wish is that we could grant ourselves the same kind of…grace. The same kind of acceptance. Can you imagine? These days I’m trying out something new. When the feeling starts to gnaw at me that I don’t deserve something good; that I’m not pretty enough, organized enough, hardworking enough, interesting enough, smart enough, better enough…..perfect enough, I take a look at the ugly bird. And, as always I think, Damn, I really love that ugly bird. All I can say is that it makes me feel a whole lot happier.
Try it for yourself….and let me know what you think.