On Bluebirds and New Beginnings
By Rachel Farmer
There is an old Lorraine folktale most commonly referred to as “The Blue Bird.” In it, two young children are tasked with finding the elusive title creature, though it always seems to evade them at every turn. The main characters at last return home from their futile adventures, defeated and world-weary—only to discover that the beautiful sapphire bird had been at their home all along, dozing contently in a gilded cage.
There are countless morals which can be gathered from the story. My favorite is perhaps the simplest of them all: Happiness is closer than you think. For me, this message can be found on the bottom shelf of my kitchen cupboard, nestled comfortably between the hot cocoa and the honey jar.
To me, a cup of tea at the end of the day is the gentle patter of rain behind the thunder and the lightning and the harsh summer gale. It is the long-awaited laugh of a loved one, red-eyed and tear-streaked, who has found much-needed comfort in your presence. It is the satisfaction of completion as you wipe the ample beads of sweat from your brow. It is the bittersweet nostalgia of turning the final page; of starting again from the beginning, just because you can.
But reality is not a book. The world is a very different place right now, devoid of life’s familiar dog-ears and coffee stains, it’s cover shiny and pristine yet lacking all the same. We are tired of hearing this message plastered across the ads of companies who do not care and never will; of seeing it pinned inevitably on dilapidated billboards and boarded up windows. And yet, despite our adversity’s infuriating persistence like a mindless buzzing gnat against a gaudy chandelier, it is not any less true.
Long gone are the shared nights of raucous laughter, the whirlwind soirées at the theater all hushed whispers and faint delight. Buried beneath these more memorable outings are those mundane bustles of normal life which now seem more like fantasy than monotony. I sometimes miss spying my reflection in a grocery store window, crinkling up my face just enough to twitch the corners of my mouth into something resembling a smile. I now think fondly of my mindless off-key warblings against the radio on the morning commute, only to whip my head to and fro, hoping frantically (and rather embarrassingly) that any other drivers did not hear. There is something that can be said, I think, for nostalgia budding contentment even in the unlikeliest of places.
And just as joy can certainly be found in the harsh and tranquil lights of too-early drives down empty lanes, it can also linger in the bottom of a warm mug nursed delicately between pale hands. These days, I often find myself burrowing under a disorganized mound of blankets and flying fur as the evening draws to a close, gasping for air yet laughing with delight as my nose just barely protrudes above a ridiculous expanse of cotton and down and wool. There are two fluffy companions purring delightedly on my feet as I blow into a fleeting cloud of steam, the honeyed beverage in my palm too hot for my tongue and yet too tempting to delay. As my favorite nighttime treat passes my lips, warming me to from my bones to the tips of my toes, I think fondly to myself that perhaps happiness has always been so much closer than I thought. Perhaps the bluebird was perched in my cupboard all along, nestled contentedly between the hot cocoa and the honey jar.