A Bird in Hand

By Valerie Sheppard

As I engage in spiritual transformation discussions with my clients, workshop participants, and members of my Heartful Awakening Circle online community (www.HeartfulAwakenings.com) who are making choices to have more of what they want in their lives, I am noticing a trend.  It’s one that feels prudent and wise on the surface, but detrimental when you get to the ‘deepest intent’ that underlies that.

The troublesome aspects of life today are forcing many into total upheaval.  Relationships, jobs, finances and lifestyles are all in a state of flux, and many weighing options to take their experiences to new levels of fulfillment and security.  As they do so, an ages-old proverb appears to be coming into play, and it might be hurting all of us.

A bird in the hand is worth (better than) two in the bush

Sources like Wise Geek.com and Phrases.org agree this proverb is saying that you’re likely to be better off by sticking with something you already have, rather than pursuing something you may never get.  The warning is that if you pass up a sure-thing (the thing you already have/know) to go for something that might be better, you may end up without both.

There are several accounts as to the origin of the proverb, some dating back to the 13th century, including that it comes from medieval falconry where the bird in your hand was the means to getting the two in the bush.  In this case, without the larger and skilled predator skills of the falcon, one wouldn’t be able to eat the smaller birds in the bush for dinner.  Perhaps you gained this wisdom when you read Aesop’s Fable of The Hawk and the Nightingale, in which a Hawk tells its nightingale prey as the latter begs to be released,  ”I’d be crazy to release a bird I’ve already caught in favor of birds I don’t even yet see.” There is even a Biblical reference from 1382:  Ecclesiastes IX – A living dog is better than a dead lion.

Regardless the proverb sounds like a lesson in the wise use of resources.  However, it’s putting a nice “useful” cover on a base emotion of fear, and on scarcity, lack, and limitation beliefs that prevent us from trusting ourselves and taking greater risks to experience our higher good. 

I’m recalling a particular apparatus on a ropes course at California’s renowned Challenge U, one of my favorite experiential learning facilities.   On this apparatus, you’re walking a tight-rope some 40-feet in the sky.  As you traverse the rope with your feet, you are using your arms to balance yourself on individual ropes hanging above your head.  These upper ropes are spaced just far enough apart, that you have to let go of one to grab the next one!  So each step along the way, you have to dangle out there in mid-air for a millisecond holding onto nothing before you can reach the next rope. [You are wearing top-notch safety gear of course, including helmet, safety harness, and gloves, and you’re being guided by one of Challenge U’s expert coaches.]  While there are other apparatus in the ropes part of Challenge U’s tools, this particular experience helps one feel what it’s like to be in the void while going toward a goal. The idea is to help people learn to feel the fear, and keep going anyway.

This is the heart of Courage, Faith and Trust. 

There are times when the bird in hand is practically killing us, and still we won’t put it down until something better is right at hand.  We probably all know at least one person who hates their job, but stays anyway, just for the money; a couple who stays married long after the relationship is over solely “for the kids” or the financial security; people who won’t risk going for something they dream about because they’re not sure they can make it.

I certainly have been there.  Before I left my last corporate job in 2006, I was “grinning and bearing it” long after I knew I was unhappy.  When I stepped into my radical sabbatical, I felt fear of loss, lack and limitation at a deep level.  It wasn’t easy leaving my corporate salary and business comfort zones.  This proverb came up many times. But in the end, I chose to step out anyway.

We’re in a time of massive shifts in the Universe.  The New Age of Enlightenment is upon us, and the energies it’s bringing are about destruction of the old, outdated, no-longer-serving-us aspects of our consciousness to make way for Truth.  Now, perhaps more than ever before, each of us is being supported to step into the void in order to claim higher ground.  But instead of stepping out in Faith, many are locked in fear and “hanging in there” with energetic vibrations that are holding them back.

I believe the struggles we’re seeing around the world are about coming out of this stasis.  More of us have to be willing to step into and learn to thrive in the void if we are to truly shift the vibration of social consciousness.  We must learn to be listen to the signs along the way screaming NO!, it’s time to leave, exit, release, drop, or whatever form of not-doing- it-anymore fits.

We must have the Courage, Faith and Trust to answer the call to leave before
the something better comes along if we truly want to live our most vibrant lives.

Perhaps our various forecasts of the future have numbed and misguided us.  Humankind’s ability to “predict” weather patterns, revenue, stock performance, life expectancies, prices, unemployment, purchasing, political races, etc. may be teaching us to look too long before we leap.   When we wait for the exact right moment to make change happen in our lives we miss the greater gift that comes from the willingness to dance with the questions and experience the fear as we choose to move forward anyway.

We must make peace with the unknown, and see our ‘Bird in Hand’ dilemmas as calls from the Soul to step into the void and feel safe! 

We’re always in some form of the unknown.  We can only know so much about how things are going to play out, and even in the midst of our sophisticated systems for projecting and predicting, we still get it wrong.  It feels more important to be at peace without knowing.

In the NOT knowing, we’re actually at our most flexible point.
In the NOT knowing, we’re open to more possibilities and in the possibilities,
there are more opportunities for triumph.  

Here’s your call to action:  Look at where you are “hanging in there,” or “grinning and bearing it” through what is not serving you, believing it’s your proverbial Bird in Hand.  Go into the fear that is keeping you from acting in your own best interest and make peace with whatever is causing it.  As the fear subsides, instead of waiting to see what will happen if you let go, perhaps it’s time to let go first, and then keep your heart open for the possibilities that you’ve just created!

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