Inspired by a short video clip recently shared by my friend Karin Konstantynowic, knowing the hummingbird is an incredibly powerful symbol for me.
by Lisa Alessi
My fascination with this little creature started 5 years ago when a ruby throated hummingbird appeared outside my window.
It was the day after learning my brother had passed away, very unexpectedly.
My brother was a very special guy who left this world having lived his life doing exactly what he loved to do, the way he wanted to do it!
He was a Renaissance man with many talents, having an incredible zest for pursuing his interests with passion, intensity and dedication.
I miss him tremendously, we were very close, but also take great solace knowing he dared to live his life to the fullest, a concept that has become a mantra in my work and my life.
So what’s the connection between my brother and the hummingbird?
For starters, I don’t believe it was coincidental that the hummingbird continued to appear outside my window for the next couple of years on my brother’s birthday and the anniversary of his passing, then stopped visiting after I learned to integrate it’s message.
Because of the infrequent visits, when the hummingbird did appear, I would stop whatever I was doing and savor the beauty of its movement as it flitted from flower to flower.
I was fascinated by the bird’s unique flight pattern. It hovers then flies backwards as well as sideways and forwards, forming the shape of infinity, a symbol for eternity, rebirth, renewal, empowerment and every lasting love — so cool!
Upon reflection, I believe both my brother’s and the hummingbird’s message was to show me the way to transcend time by recognizing what has happened in the past and what might happen in the future are not nearly as important as what I am experiencing right now.
At the time of the bird’s first visit, I was constantly running from one activity, project, phone call or event to another.
Savoring the beauty of ordinary moments was out of the question. I was burnt out, full of worry about what others were thinking, trying to be perfect, doubting my performance and subject to the constant inner dialogue in my head.
Instead of taking time to slow down, explore these issues and release them, I buried myself in busyness. Like the proverbial energizer bunny, I kept going and going and going!
But these moments of watching the hummingbird drew me in, I learned what it meant to fly backwards, hover, swing to the side and then move on.
When we fly backwards — reliving moments from our childhood, relationships, dramas of the day, yesterday, last week or even 20, 30, 40 years ago — it holds us back.
The hummingbird taught me not to get stuck in the past, lost in regret or long for the what was but instead use these experiences for purposes of understanding how they shaped who I am today.
For me the story line that kept running through my head revolved around fears of being stuck behind the curtain. I had dedicated my career to making others stand out and feared putting myself out there.
I guess this is a pretty common issue but I remember being blown away after reading a post that my business coach Pam Slim had recommended feeling like she had read my mind and written it just for me!
By learning to step aside (fly sideways) and become the observer of my thinking and my challenges, it allowed me to see my life and fears from different perspectives and how the experiences leading up to that point in my life made me stronger.
Ultimately, I’ve been apprenticing for my role as coach and entrepreneur my entire career. I just needed to create a little space to see the common threads by viewing my experiences from different angles.
I also learned to lighten up and hover in the moment instead of rushing to the next thing. When you take time to explore your doubts, fears and even the mysterious unknown, you realize it’s never as bad your mind has made it out to be.
By learning to not to dwell on the past, fear the future and hover in the present, I learned to appreciate the sweet nectar of life.
I can now focus on what I want and like my brother, live life to the fullest!
The last and most important message my brother and the hummingbird taught me was to cherish what is and not what was.
Even though my brother has moved on, his spirit will remain in my heart forever or as Buzz Lightyear would say –“to infinity and beyond!”
With love, Lisa
This article was written by Lisa Alessi, and originally appeared on her blog, Renaissance Learner, on June 3, 2011.
Lisa says: I currently live in Saratoga Springs, NY. I have an awesome husband, two great kids and my loving dogs, a Golden and a Dalmatian/lab rescue. I’ve spent my most of my life on the East Coast, growing up in Boston then living NYC and the DC metro area (with a short stint to Hawaii). I love to travel and explore new cultures, especially their native environments and I love music, it’s a natural up-lifter. Lisa can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org