“Up here, lady!” Two quick knocks on glass follow. A ruby-throated hummingbird pecks against the window pane. He is hovering in mid-air, right next to the feeder. Occurrences during past years taught me not to be surprised about the strangest happenings. On the contrary, I am delighted to understand this tiny creature.
Good morning, my friend, I greet him hoping my mental voice will suffice. I just filled up the feeder. Don’t you like the new nectar?
“Of course I do! Thank you for upgrading it! We can use the additional energy when we fly south.”
Shouldn’t you be thinking about leaving soon? Most of your friends have. The calendar marks the end of October.
“Don’t worry about me, lady! I can feel when it’s time to leave.”
Good for you, my friend. You birds don’t need passport, visa or green card to pass through borders!
“What’s that? Passport? Visa? Green card? And what borders do you mean, lady?”
Papers that allow people to go back and forth between countries. Papers like these sheets that I fill out right now. People need papers to cross borders, on land, at sea or in the air. The entire world is divided into countries. The line where two countries meet is called a border.
Tired of wasting energy, the little creature perches on the feeder closest to the window. After a quick check of his surroundings, he turns his head toward me.
“So, humans cannot go wherever they wish, whenever they wish?”
They can as long as they don’t cross a border that requires a passport and such. Otherwise, they are required to have the papers that allow them to do so.
“Only humans can come up with an idea like that! Birds share land, sea and air with all kinds of species, including humans. Why would humans not allow their fellow men what they allow us? Why complicate things when they can be simple?” The little feather ball pauses before he tilts his head slightly and concludes: “I don’t understand people. You humans have turned yourselves into zoo animals. You are caught behind your self-created borders. Filling out papers to receive more papers doesn’t sound like a fun game to play. In fact, it sounds like a waste of time. All these words, all these papers, no freedom there. My head is spinning just listening to you, lady. How fortunate that I am a hummingbird!” -and off he flies to the closest zinnia.
Dumbfounded about his insight I watch him leave. The bird’s metaphor of zoo animals has stirred up the recollection of a picture that I once took from the top of a slightly arched bridge. Through its grid, I could see the reflection of my kneeling body on the water surface below. When I looked at the picture more closely, my reflection had the appearance of a yogi in meditation -behind bars.
What did he say? You are caught behind your self-created borders. What a wise little creature! I take a deep breath and contemplate the sheets in front of me.
I am hunched over an application for the continuation of my German citizenship. I didn’t even know that something like this existed until recently. If I want to apply for American citizenship and not lose my German in the process, I have to file these forms with the German government first. Only after my petition has been approved (which might take up to a year), will I be able to apply for American citizenship. Caught behind your self-created borders.
I have been married to an American citizen for over 28 years and have lived in the US for 23 years. Dual citizenship wasn’t available then, but is has become an option for me now. I feel the obligation to honor all the people who fought hard for the right to vote. I owe it to them and to myself to vote where I live. Zoo animals don’t have a say about who handles them. Will I have a say? Will I be free as a bird?
About the author
Anja Kerstin Kuentzel,
Advanced Grief Recovery Method specialist, nature lover, photographer, and bilingual wordsmith combines her passions to offer a different perspective on life that might inspire, raise awareness or even heal.