My evening walk turned into a rescue mission. A failed one.
As I was walking around Mirror Lake I saw an ibis that looked like it had something on its neck. It was walking ahead of me, and I asked some people sitting nearby if that was the case. They confirmed.
When I got a closer look I saw that it had what looked like a disposable, apple sauce container with a busted bottom over its neck but also through its beak. It seemed to be able to drink water, and it could definitely fly.
I started stalking it, wanting to catch it. The others around tried to dissuade me:
- “We already tried that.”
- “You won’t catch it like that.”
- “We’ve been trying for hours.”
I tried anyway.
I went home and got a towel and scissors. I thought I might be able to trap it under the towel and pin it to the ground. Then I could cut the container off with the scissors.
I got close enough to throw the towel once, but the bird flew away.
I stepped into the lake to retrieve my towel.
The others gave me a lot of “I told you so’s.” They placated themselves with the idea that the bird would certainly live until tomorrow when animal control will come to get it.
Thinking of the bird as I walked home, I cried. It’s not the bird’s fault that humans are lazy and careless.
I cried because I couldn’t help it, and I might have even hurt it by diminishing its chances of survival by wearing it out.
But while I was walking and thinking, I also felt frustrated that people tried to disuade me from helping. I think those other folks thought that my trying dismissed their previous efforts. Because, after all, if I succeeded wouldn’t it show their lacking?
I just wanted to help. My attempt would never diminish the fact that a number of people saw a bird in trouble and cared enough to help. And if I was lucky, the bird would be free and everyone wins.
I wasn’t lucky. But I tried.
In this particular case, I’m glad I tried. I couldn’t have just kept walking. Yet my failed attempt left me feeling helpless, like the time I happened upon a possum that had been hit.
And I’ll never stop helping, or at least offering, in situations like this. I never want to be the person who keeps walking without doing something.