The Hummingbird Song

//The Hummingbird Song

The Hummingbird Song

Do you like to worry? Perhaps “like” is the wrong word choice? While we all do it from time to time, surely no one likes it?

I’ll admit, I do more than my fair share of worrying. Hugh used to say that he never worried about anything because I did enough for both of us. The first time he heard Joe Walsh’s The Worry Song he declared it mine.

“Well, I’m worried I may find a four leaf clover, Lord knows I can’t sleep if nothing’s wrong, I’m worried that my troubles might be over, Takes a worried (wo)man to sing a worried song.”

Yep, that’s me. Worried, whether things are good – they might turn bad! – or they’re bad – they might turn badder.

Here’s the thing, though. In all of the years I was married to Hugh – 25 – he provided tons to worry about, because he was a huge risk-taker. Not once did I worry about him dropping dead for no reason, which is exactly what he went and did. And, even if I had worried about him checking out that way, it still would have happened. So, what purpose does worry serve? None. Zip. Zero. Zilch.

Worry doesn’t fix anything. Erma Bombeck says, “Worry is like a rocking chair:  it gives you something to do but never gets you anywhere.”

Or, how about this quote by Harold Stephen:  “There is a great difference between worry and concern. A worried person sees a problem, and a concerned person solves a problem.”

Notice how that simple shift in word choices, from “worry” to “concern” provides some relief? If I were to be “concerned” instead of “worried”, I could do something, besides rocking back and forth. But then I delve into it a bit deeper. Often my topic of “concern” is my children, all three of them adults now. So, if I’m “concerned” about them and I can’t do anything because their problems belong to them and not me, then I guess “concern” is a cure for “worry” because it provides some distancing. If they ask for help and I can provide it, great. If I can’t, I must say no. Actually, I must get better at saying no. Firmer. NO.

I like this quote by Henry Ward Beecher:  “Every tomorrow has two handles. We can take hold of it with the handle of anxiety or the handle of faith.” Replace anxiety with faith and shove worry in a deep, dark grave, where it belongs. Maybe we should strike the word from the English language?

I find it interesting that yesterday, as I headed into this period of “concern”, I sat having breakfast in the morning sun on the east patio with B when a hummingbird came right up to me. I mean right up. B watched it fly toward my sweater – a leopard pattern (my favorite color), not floral – as though it was going to dip its beak. It shyly scooted back, hung there for a bit, as hummingbirds can, and then flew off.

I looked up the meaning on and this is what I found:

“Appearing out of nowhere the hummingbird springs joy in the heart, and there is magic in the air in this moment of fleeting serendipity. Iridescent colors shimmering in the breeze, she pauses mid-air to drink the sweet nectar that the flower so generously provides her. Hummingbird is a symbol of all things good.”

So, I was visited by joy and magic and all things good. Courage and endurance too. Did you know the ruby-throated hummingbird travels 3,000 miles – and alone, they don’t travel in flocks – from Central America to return to the place it hatched? That wee bird B and I saw, the weight of just a quarter, flew back to the gardens – my gardens! – that nurtured it. It found us again, and without a Garmin! Hummingbirds are also territorial, an adult male defending a territory of about a quarter of an acre. And shouldn’t one, gently, defend one’s own territory, one’s boundaries in life, so that others may not take advantage? says the hummingbird “challenges you to say ‘yes I can’ and believe it will be done”.

So, ‘yes I can’ replace worry with concern for problems that can be solved. Problems that can’t be solved? Well, it’s like the Serenity Prayer, yes? Authored by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, it has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous, and was adopted by my mother when my dad’s drinking had her “concerned”.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.”



  1. Kathie May 27, 2015 at 11:52 am - Reply

    and as the author of “The Untethered Soul” says…just say…”No, I am not going to close my heart…I’m going to relax…I’m going to let this situation take place and I’m going to be there with it”..he wrote this book during one of the most challenging and worrisome times of his life…it was his salvation…and it has certainly cut my worrying down lately!!! Love Mini

  2. Richard May 27, 2015 at 12:25 pm - Reply

    Another enjoyable read. I’ve always been a fan of self-help books – I’ve read hundreds of them and I’m not sure any has ever been of much help. Still, I’m a sucker for them. Your blogs sometimes remind me of this genre and that’s one reason I enjoy reading them. I can see you submitting something to the Chicken Soup series. Really. Nicely done.

  3. Richard May 27, 2015 at 3:07 pm - Reply

    Hi Rita. I’m wondering if my comments are getting through here. It’s hard to check on this end. I posted a comment today but don’t see a record of it. Let me know. Thanks. Richard

    • Rita Hartley May 27, 2015 at 3:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Richard – Yes, they are and thank you so much – for reading and commenting! I really appreciate the feedback and Chicken Soup would certainly be a great market. The comments get emailed to me to moderate. I’ve heard that from others – that they aren’t sure if they get through, so I will see if we do anything about that. R.

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