Everyone we meet impacts our lives in some way, leaving ripples large and small. There are small moments of impact–a smile, a held door, a kind word–that lift you for a moment. There are more lasting impacts–perhaps a deep conversation with a loved one, an encouraging conversation, a memory–that shape who we are, and what we value as individuals. There are heartaches and celebrations, grief and joy shared. These common experiences are the individual brush strokes that paint the lens with which we view our lives, adding color and shape to the broader picture.
Sometimes, the impact is abrupt–a birth, the loss of a loved one, a career change, a cancer diagnosis, or a new birth. Other times, the effect is subtle; unrealized until much later how a particular experience or interaction nudged our life on a particular path.
The year of the onset of the pandemic–which many will joke was the worst year ever–was actually a highlight for my family. We welcomed the birth of our second child–a son who brought light and joy to our family. We moved to a home within walking distance of my work and daycare, allowing me to commute through the woods on foot most days taking in the awe and beauty of the natural world.
During the pandemic, I experienced a series of losses that left me reeling. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with late-stage cancer, and I lost two friends in short succession to suicide. With one friend in particular, I was always reminded of a hummingbird in the way that they moved–flitting to and fro with great speed, pausing for moments to give full focus to whatever most needed their attention. The loss of these people sent a tidal wave of grief and sadness throughout the web of lives who they touched, including my own. It was a painful reminder of how interconnected we are with one another.
It was at this time that I realized that I wanted to focus my life on moments like these–bringing out the best in the people and communities with whom I interact. I wasn’t sure yet what that change would look like in practice, but my view of the world and my priorities became suddenly clear.
Hummingbirds became a symbol of joy and hope for me. They reflect the balance of hard work and focus as well as the bridge linking us together. I find that their likenesses keep showing up for me in times, places, and in people when I feel most resonant with the direction of the universe.
I’ve recently become aware of the symbolic significance of hummingbirds throughout various cultures. As Laura Lynne Jackson so eloquently wrote in her book:
Native Americans see hummingbirds as healers and helpers who bring luck and love to those they visit. In Aztec culture, hummingbirds were believed to be commissioned by the gods to carry out tasks that required exceptional lightness, such as delivering blessings from one person to another. “If someone intends good to you, the hummingbird takes that desire all the way to you.”
Let the presence of hummingbirds be a reminder to honor the connections that pull us together.