Not too long ago, I went out to my veg­etable gar­den to fer­til­ize all the plants. I have events on my phone’s cal­en­dar that reminds me when it is time to fer­til­izer par­tic­u­lar things in our yard. After I was done, I left the bag of fer­til­izer on the grill shelf out­side because I knew I was going to have to fer­til­ize again soon. Or maybe I was being lazy. Either way, the bag got left there. I use fer­til­izer from Gar­dens Alive and it comes in a heavy duty brown paper bag that sits upright. About a month ago, we went out onto the patio and were greeted by an explo­sion of brown feath­ers pour­ing out of the bag of fer­til­izer streak­ing towards the creek call­ing us hor­ri­ble names as it went.

Turns out, a Car­olina Wren had taken up res­i­dence in the bag, built quite a cozy nest and laid her eggs there. Our book on Texas birds notes that Car­olina Wrens are noto­ri­ous for nest­ing in odd places like car bumpers and mail­boxes. I guess this one decided the small bag of fer­til­izer was perfect.

Over the next few weeks, we’ve watched mom and dad come and go. Scooter seems to be bliss­fully unaware of the pro­ceed­ings thank­fully as that was my biggest worry, that he’d start to inves­ti­gate. His inves­ti­ga­tions with most wildlife aren’t of the harm­less curi­ous sort and he has a way with keep­ing the pop­u­la­tion of all sorts of things low in our back­yard. Last week, K noticed chirp­ing noises com­ing from the bag and mom and dad started bring­ing var­i­ous insects back home. Now the biggest issue was man­ag­ing to keep Scooter occu­pied some­how when the chicks made their vir­gin flight. Luck­ily, he went to board­ing last week for a vaca­tion which seemed to coin­cide perfectly.

On Tues­day morn­ing, one of the par­ent birds was sit­ting on a tiki torch mak­ing a par­tic­u­lar call over and over again. I quickly fig­ured out that he was try­ing to coax his off­spring to come out of the bag and fly around with him. I’m not sure how this nor­mally works but I expected it to be a rea­son­ably quick pro­ce­dure. How­ever, when I came home last night, there he was, still in the same spot doing the same thing. Appar­ently, it’s dark and cozy in that lit­tle bag of fer­til­izer and the out­side world is noisy and scary. As of this morn­ing, no chicks had come out yet even though both mom and dad had joined the effort, hold­ing bugs in their mouths while they made that same noise over and over again. Tonight, after almost 36 hours of coax­ing, they were gone.

It’s easy to find your­self doing the rou­tine, liv­ing in a com­fort zone. I feel like I’ve been liv­ing in that bag for quite awhile myself. Not in the same sense as rely­ing on my par­ents to bring me grasshop­pers to eat mind you. Def­i­nitely in the sense that it’s dark and cozy and doing things dif­fer­ently from what I’m used to is scary. My com­fort zone in all sorts of things hasn’t mea­sur­ably been expanded since well…I don’t know when exactly. I’ve been doing the same things in my career, in my hob­bies and in my per­sonal life for years. It’s resulted in some great suc­cesses but it’s also kept me from grow­ing. That lack of growth is start­ing to haunt me, both fig­u­ra­tively and literally.

I’m ter­ri­fied of risk. I’ve always been cau­tious but the con­stant rein­force­ment of not tak­ing any risks has cre­ated a mon­ster inside of me, one that is uncom­fort­able in all but the most com­fort­able sit­u­a­tions. It’s become dys­func­tional. Unfor­tu­nately, my instinc­tual way to fix it is do some­thing extreme, totally change some­thing in a dras­tic man­ner. That’s prob­a­bly not good on any level. You’d never want some­one who hadn’t exer­cised in years to sud­denly run a marathon. What I need to do instead is insti­gate a plan for get­ting to the point where I can run a marathon. Right now, that plan is lim­ited to a daily med­i­ta­tion but I’m hop­ing to expand it as my com­fort zone gets wider.

Even­tu­ally, if you want to be happy, you have to take things into your own hands. You can’t keep think­ing how things ought to be unless you’re will­ing to do what it takes to ensure they are. For a long time I’ve been afraid of the risks involved in mak­ing things how they ought to be. I’m try­ing to fight through those fears and start doing things.