Are You the Bird or the Worm? – Brand Lizard transparent

I was sitting under a tree the other day eating lunch when I felt a tickle on my foot. I looked down to see a skinny worm lowering itself down from a branch, tapping me. Carefully, I coaxed it onto my fingers and gently set it down on the grass. Before I could say the words “Colourful Bird” a little red Foddy swooped down and pecked. At once I felt guilty for killing the worm, and reassurance that Little Red had take-out that day. The circle of life played out right before my eyes and brought me into the middle of it. I am not used to being in the middle of things. The centre is not a place that I often find myself. I am much more comfortable being on the edge.

Last month the whole of Mauritius waited on an edge of a different kind. Berguitta the cyclone was set to pop over. She started small, a push-over really, but then she gathered speed. The popular Facebook feeds binged and bonged with updates as she gained momentum and headed directly for the island as she continued with force. By the time the category 3 warning came in, my village was a hub of activities.

Some people stocked up on their wine and others stocked up on bread. Garden furniture was brought inside. While some people waited in fear, a lot of locals took it in their stride. They knew that some houses would not be able to resist the winds and would be blown away, but until then there was not much they could do.

Planes were grounded, firemen were on call and plans were put in place. Safety measures were being shared between friends and Berguitta stopped and held her space. It became anyone’s guess if she’d gather strength or fizzle out as we braced ourselves for what was to come. Like a high society lady, she was late. She kept us guessing and finally, she swooped in on the winds of a tropical storm. Not a cyclone, but a flood of warm rain instead. There were a lot of people who were unaffected. For them, it was a spot of bad weather. There were also some people who were left in ruins. As they moped up their lives, their businesses or their passions, life continued on. Some got help, some struggled and some didn’t need a thing.

Everyone at some point of their lives finds a big story they have to get through. Fear can be your friend or your foe. Being afraid of what is to come can stop us from the adventure, but sometimes it is that fear that keeps us safe. The problem is that often we don’t know what acceptable fear is, and what is that one thing that we need to brace ourselves and take the plunge. When I started writing my book, I worried that people would hear my story and judge me. This fear almost stopped me, but like the locals waiting for the cyclone, I realised that I could do nothing about it until it happened and if there was even just one person who understood their own story better if they knew mine, I would be happy being part of their clean-up crew.

I guess that life leaves you with choices and you have to decide if you are the worm or the bird. For me, waiting for the cyclone or writing my book were almost one and the same. My life remains the same. In the middle of it all. Not the bird and not the worm.

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