HOW MY NIECE GOT HERSELF HARRY, THE PET BIRD
Maggie H is a Global Explorer and Wellness Guru from Hong Kong. Among many spiritual endeavors, Maggie practices and leads Qigong meditation to help people around the world find their inner balance. Find out more about this and other Eastern Philosophy & Meditation practices every Monday on the ICBRKR blog.
This is an awe-inspiring story about my 11-year-old niece.
I have two incredibly cute nieces who love animals, as most children do. They enjoy visiting Jeju Island because they usually stay at a sheep farm there, where they play with different kinds of farm animals such as rabbits, chickens, ducks, horses, dogs, goats, sheep, cows, and cats all day long. At the dinner table, they excitedly talk about the freshest news on the animal families, such as which dog is grounded for biting which sheep's leg, how silky the new born black goat's hair is, how the cat's injured leg is healing slowly, and why the other mysterious grey cat only comes near the cabin after dark because his home is right under the porch, and so on.
As much as they enjoy their happy vacations with animals, eventually, they began to want more than that. They started wanting a pet to play with, at home. My sister resisted for as long as she could, but finally gave in. Her preference was an animal with a relatively shorter life span, and one that doesn't require daily walking. In the end, they settled for a small fish tank with 4 different fish representing each family member.
It seemed jolly for a little while, until the family began to hold weekly funerals for each fish. Subsequently, many new fish members were introduced. I could barely catch up with their colors and habits, let alone their names.
In due time, the kids got tired of it and made a stronger demand for a ‘real’ pet. This time, my sister came up with a condition that was nearly impossible for mere 11- and 9-year olds to deliver: they needed to meditate for an hour every day in exchange for a pet bird.
Upon hearing this seemingly unachievable condition, the 11-year-old didn't budge, but the 9-year-old tried a closed-door negotiation with her mom. After a long session, the 9-year-old came back with a satisfied face and announced, “That's fine. Mom told me that I can get as many pets as I want when I get my own house!” For her, the problem was solved.
Now, the 11-year-old had to accept the condition placed and follow the instructions. The meditation sessions were to start with a 10-minute routine on the first day, adding 10 minutes every consecutive day until they reached an hour. From that point on, she needed to meditate for 60 minutes every day for two weeks, to discuss the type of bird she wanted. If she kept it up for one straight month, they would go buy the bird. It doesn't end there. She would have to continue meditating until the bird dies; otherwise, my sister would release the bird into the wild. Moreover, there should be no opening of eyes, no flinching, no whining, no talking, no scratching and no moving — basically all the things she couldn't help doing. Like most kids these days, my niece gets easily distracted and has an issue with concentration. All of us, including my sister, thought she would give up after one day, two at the most.
To our surprise, she made it to 60 minutes very graciously. Hence, we all cheered for her to keep it up. Slowly, two weeks passed, then another two weeks and she finally reached the one-month mark. Of course, there were some bumps in the road. On one occasion, the whole family had been out all day and came home at around 9:30pm. It was already past my niece’s usual bedtime, she felt tired and worried at the same time. She asked her mother what to do. My sister, stubborn as she is, told her it was entirely up to her if she didn't want to meditate, but then she had to forget about the bird. Her dad and uncle decided to support her by joining her in the meditation session. In less than 30 minutes, her dad and uncle started to doze off but my niece managed to sit for the entire hour. After completing the session, she crawled to her bed and passed out. Needless to say, she had a well-deserved rest that night.
Yesterday, they went to the bird market and brought a beautiful male parakeet home. They named him ‘Harry’ from Harry Potter. Through the long and hard process of bringing Harry home, my brave little niece learned about the most valuable virtues of life: hard work and determination. With her permission, I have shared this story today, with the hope that it will inspire you in the same way it inspired me.
Maggie H is a Life Cartographer, Eastern philosopher, Qigong master, Buddhist and Taoist meditator, Feng Shui practitioner, and researcher of Buddhist scriptures. She lives in Hong Kong, and regularly travels to both India and South Korea to further her spiritual growth and development. Her lifelong motto is: "benefit to all humankind."
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