Creativity on the Sidewalk: How to Feather Your Nest

tiny feathery bird's nestWhat has Life given you today to create with?

Last week, as I left the sushi takeaway near my flat, I stepped out onto the sidewalk and turned toward home. Suddenly I realized, out of the corner of my eye I had glimpsed something extraordinary. I turned back to see a tiny bird’s nest in the middle of the sidewalk. No bird in sight. I had almost missed it.

Instead I turned back, picked it up, and held it carefully between two fingers. The walk home, with this tiny treasure in my hand, was an impromptu lesson in how precious life can be, and how easily we can miss it.

I found a nest once before, on the driveway of our house in England, where it now sits on our living room bookcase. This is a very different place. Trees – aside from the stereotypical scattered palms – are less common here. The raw materials available to birds here are different.

Today’s nest is smaller. Both nests are uniquely beautiful. But this one is made almost entirely of feathers, with only a small internal structure of twigs to hold them in place.

As I walked home, I couldn’t help thinking that while the twigs provide a delicate structure for the nest, the bird who built this nest then plucked her own soft feathers to complete it. That spoke to me. What she created had her in it. And the words rose spontaneously within me, “Feather your nest.”

Birds must use the materials at hand to make their nests. They use what’s around them and weave it all together with elements of themselves. It’s their nature. They migrate. They settle. They nest. They create a family. They let it go. And then they do the same thing again, year after year.

I am fond of saying, when speaking with people about the Wheel of Creativity, that our circumstances are the raw materials with which we create our lives. My circumstances are different than yours. They are different than they were a year ago. And we all have our preferences.

Some circumstances may produce more comfortable nests than others. But each year, each day, each moment, it is in your human nature to create something new… to feel the longing, to build the nest, to give birth to something new, to set it free, and then to move on to the next thing. This is the natural creative cycle of life.

All we have to do is look to Nature to know that we are creative, and to understand how to live creatively. To my knowledge, birds do not argue with Nature. They do not wait for perfection. They feel the calling. They start the family. They build the nest. They do the work. They set their children free. And they sing.

Life wants you to create. Life is constantly seeking to perpetuate itself through you. You may prefer to wait until things are just so before you act. But in the end, if you are to have a nest in your life, you will create it.

What a privilege, this experience of being alive. What materials has life given you to make your nest today? What will you add of yourself to make the world a more beautiful place?