Archives for posts with tag: serendipity

coopers_hawk_F5R7942-02 I had an experience this weekend that was so incredibly powerful, I just had to share.

I was driving home on Saturday morning after picking up some things from thrift stores and estates that I needed, but didn’t want to spend a fortune on.  Stuff like tablecloths and dishes, for a party I am having this coming weekend, and a freezer, because I have wanted one for ages, when I saw something beside the road that caught my eye.

I must confess right now, I have a weakness for road kill.  I got it from my friend, Susanna.  We nearly trampled each other to death once trying to get to a male cardinal in a parking lot before the other one did.  She is smaller than I am, and quicker, so she claimed that particular prize.  I took some feathers from it, and photographed it at every possible angle to have a record of how  the body was structured.  I have learned a lot from things I have picked up from beside the road, from how a feather pattern unfolds, to what a coyote’s fur actually looks like from five inches away.

That morning, I saw a bird, and hoped that it might be a wild turkey, since I am working on smudge feathers for an art show in October.  But the bird looked too small at 65 miles an hour to be a wild turkey, so this rush of thoughts raced through my head…stop, not, don’t stop….then…STOP!!!!!  Instead of turning around and driving back down the freeway, hoping I would find the bird again on my way past and be able to park closer to it, I slammed on my brakes, pulled off the highway shoulder as far as possible, and started the quarter mile trek up the road past an endless stream of cars and trucks.

As I walked up on this bird, I saw that is was, in fact, a small hawk.   It’s wildly illegal to own feathers from birds of prey even if they are road kill, but this little beauty was so pretty, I actually considered it for a moment when something incredible happened…

It blinked.

And then I saw its chest rise and fall.  It blinked again, and my heart fell.  It was creepy, and wonderful, and terribly sad, all at the same time.  I couldn’t imagine walking away from that bird, leaving it there to die on the side of the road, but I had nothing to pick it up with except my bare hands.  And anyway, I had a dog in the car.  What it I picked it up and it bit me?  What if I picked it up and it was covered with blood?  What if I got it back to the truck and it was only stunned?  I could just see myself from the perspective of other drivers, this green truck with a white camper top, weaving uncontrollably up the highway while inside the cab, a pissed off hawk and a hunting dog are going at it  in the front seat while I frantically try to get to the side of the road to open the door and let the damned thing out.  I thought about what it was going to cost me if I took it to a vet and they could save it, then I tried to remember where the closest vet clinic was and how to get there.  I took a deep breath, and wrapped my hands tightly around the wings.  When I picked the bird up, the head didn’t loll to the side, the way they do when a bird’s neck is broken, but it hasn’t died yet.  It blinked again, so I began the long walk back to the truck, holding the bird as far out in front of me as I possibly could, talking to it the entire way in an effort to convince it not to die on me.  A trucker passed going the opposite direction, and I glanced up long enough to see that he was craning his neck trying to see what I was carrying up the highway with my arms straight out in front of me.

I had a box of dishes I’d bought with newspaper in it in the front seat, and a Pharaoh Hound in the backseat, so I nestled the bird in the newspaper and hoped to God it didn’t suddenly spring to its feet.  Or die on  me.  I pulled off the exit I was parked next to, and got back on the freeway headed for the vet clinic I take my dogs to.   The hawk didn’t move, but I could tell it was still breathing, and when I got to the vet clinic a few minutes later, I took it into the reception area in the box of dishes it was in and set it on the counter.  A lady waiting with her dog said she’d seen me beside the road, and wondered what I was doing, and the two women behind the counter immediately offered to euthanize it.  But when they got it into the back room, it stood up in the box, which presented a whole new set of problems.

The government has strict rules about handling wildlife of any kind, and since no one at the clinic was a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, they called another clinic and asked if their wildlife rehabilitator was in. Fortunately, she was, but then I was told, I had to be the one to take the bird to her since the only thing these women were allowed to do was tape the box up with the hawk in it.  The box had handles so I wasn’t afraid it couldn’t breathe.  I was afraid it was still going to die on me, but I picked up the box, dishes and all and carried it back out to the truck.

The receptionist at the second clinic took the bird and the box in the back, and asked me to fill out some paperwork asking where I got it.  I waited for the vet to examine it, but the prognosis was not good.  I was told that it had suffered some head trauma, and damage to one eye, and also, that it started hemorrhaging.  I left the clinic certain the hawk had died, or was going to, and spent the rest of the day thinking about that moment when it blinked.  I can’t quite explain the feeling I had when I first picked it up, or how fragile it looked laying in the box of newspaper on top of a set of dishes, or the sudden sense I had that something truly powerful and life changing had happened.  I was flooded with the feeling that I had just invested in the best possible karma I have ever experienced in my life  up to this point, and even though it may be overstating the case, it felt absolutely incredible to know that I held a wild hawk in my hands, that I didn’t let it die alone beside the road, that, for one brief moment, I connected with something much greater than myself.

And then I called the vet clinic this morning to find out what happened with it.  I was expecting to be told that the hawk had died, or been euthanized, but instead, I was informed that after the vet examined it, they were able to release it Sunday morning, and it flew away without incident.   It was an incredible way to start my Monday, and definitely an experience worth sharing.

 

A few weeks ago when I was in the studio finishing work on the big cats handbag, I was listening to part two of “Oprah’s Favorite Things” to help pass the time.  When I heard Oprah say that she is a huge Scrabble fan, I looked up with great interest, since Scrabble handbags are not only fun for me to make, they are also one of my most popular accessories.

By the following afternoon, I had a custom made  Scrabble handbag and a handmade clutch ready to go in the mail along with one of my new 2011 calendars, a brochure, biography and letter of introduction.  I decided to send the bag to “O Magazine” because I have seen video of the piles upon countless piles of mail she gets at Harpo Studios in Chicago every week.  And, anyway, I’d sent a pair of gourd masks to one of her producers about ten years ago and never heard anything back.

 

Last April when I found out that Sascha Obama had decided to make saving the tigers a priority in her young life, AND that the Obamas were set to visit the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, and I dropped everything I was doing to create a leopard evening bag for Michelle, a tiger tote for Sacha, and a cheetah tote for Malia.  After packaging the bags in boxes lined with matching prints, I drove up to the The Grove Park Inn to deliver them, but alas, they wouldn’t let me leave the gifts, so I mailed them off to the White House that same day.

 

My  point is this.  I have never been one to let an opportunity pass to promote myself or my work, because I have to believe that somewhere along the line something amazing will happen, that the right person will come along to propel my career into the stratosphere, that whoever I have been waiting on, or whatever I have dreamed will unfold, whatever chance encounter, or opportunity I once acted on that “never went anywhere” (at least not in my time frame) is all part of a larger plan that I have no control over, but which I chose to continue to believe will happen, even when it seems as though I have run up against a brick wall.

I believe in serendipity and in the idea that even though I might be ready for the next phase of my career, the people and events that will carry me to the next level, might not be in place yet.  I haven’t heard back from either Oprah Winfrey OR Michelle Obama, but you never know when the phone might ring, or who might be reading this blog and think, I can do something to help this along.

I know Malcolm Gladwell thinks that there is no such thing as luck, that people only get to where they want to be based on where they were born and what family they were born into, but I believe that while family dynamics play a role in how we start life, the choices we make about what to do with the talents we’ve been given as we grow up, can take us where we want to be, even if the journey takes longer than we would like.  Or to be more accurate, where I would like because, as I have said before, I was ready to “be somebody” when I was twenty.  Thirty years later, I am STILL ready to be the next Prada, or Gucci, or Balenciaga.  And while I don’t have the money or the prestige, I have the drive, the goal, and the desire coupled with the steadfast belief that I didn’t get the talent I have by accident…there has to be a reason why things haven’t happened the way I have wanted…..