I came across these pictures taken a few springs ago outside the building where I was working. We first noticed these little guys when they were just tiny beak tips emerging above the rim. The pictures were taken on the day before they left the nest for good and, honestly, they were wedged so tightly together, I wasn’t sure how they would even get out. But they did, and it got me thinking about nests. In common idioms, nest implies some level of safety and security; “nest egg”, “empty nest”, “love nest”. But what happens when the nest becomes too small? The obvious answer is that you leave it behind and move on, but that’s sometimes easier said than done (ask the parents of the “boomerang kid” generation).
Six years ago, at the height of the nation’s financial downturn, I unexpectedly lost a job and career that spanned nearly three decades. I’m sure to touch on “blessings in disguise” in future posts, but at the time, I was set adrift and I wasn’t alone. It seemed there were a few different camps when it came to coping with a layoff. Some, who were committed to their careers, sought and found other employment without missing a beat. Others had their confidence shaken, settled for a “subsistence” job and opted just for survival; a whole subset of bitter engineers-turned-baristas. I tread water for a while, knowing I had a great opportunity, but unsure what to do with it. I tried the survival jobs until I realized I had lost sight of the search for my true endeavor and nearly squandered the opportunity I’d been given. I was grateful for the security of work I could do easily and a regular income, but eventually being “safe” wasn’t enough. We all need a secure place to land and rest a while when we get tossed around by life’s currents, especially when we’re trying something new. But how do we know we’ve rested long enough? When does the nest become too small?
The signs are there if we’re listening to our spirit. Are you wedged into a nest with people who want you to stay because THEY need you, or until THEY think you’re ready to go? Do you embrace each day ahead of you or dread it? Do you minimize your skills and talents so as not to intimidate or offend? Do you hold back your knowledge and ideas for fear they won’t be well-received or even understood? Are your elbows chafing against the constriction of unfulfilled dreams? If you felt a “Yes” rising up to any of those questions, your nest may be too small. It’s time to peer over the edge, extricate ourselves from the closeness of fear, slide out onto the skinny branches and open wide our wings. Ready?