Lately, I’ve noticed three brown-headed cowbird pairs pecking at the fallen seed under our feeders.
There is a beauty to them, especially the males, with their sleek black body feathers and their deep brown heads. They look like they’re made of velvet. But knowing that there are other birds’ nests that are playing host to cowbird young poised to shove out the smaller, legitimate nestlings, I feel conflicted about the cowbirds’ presence. I want to feed the birds, but by doing so, I’m also feeding this parasitic species. But if I stop putting out food, I eliminate the food source not just for the cowbirds but for all of the other non-parasitic passerines.
This conundrum echoes a struggle in which I’ve been engaged for weeks now.
I’m currently part of two monthly book clubs, a weekly webinar entitled “Immigration as a Moral Issue,” a bi-weekly discussion group called “Finding Your Spiritual Path,” and our church Social Action Committee. In addition to this, I homeschool my kids (including the hour or more each day my daughter and I practice flute together) and my husband and I are trying to make an effort to connect with other people in our community by initiating and accepting dinner invitations.
Each of these things has value, but I’m wiped out. I’m inclined to drop my evening activities and focus instead on reading and going to bed early and meditating in the mornings, which are all things that I know feed my spirit. Trouble is, my evening activities are the only social things I do for myself. If I cut them out, will the loss of that social interaction hurt me more than help me? Will I be shutting myself off from deepening friendships? But if I keep them, will I just be perpetuating this feeling of being spread thin?
How do I know when it serves my needs better to cut out activities than to add activities?
Where is the balance?