Happiness, who knows. Joy, jeez, that’s a whole frickin’ thing. I will never have even the faintest idea about deep personal fulfillment. But you can make the minute-by-minute drudgery of life a little better. You can hang a bird feeder near a window, and fill it with birdseed, and have some pretty birds to look at.
Around the edge of the roof of my home, there is a gutter. This is true of most roofs in the industrialized world, probably including the one nearest to you at this moment. Every foot or so along the length of this particular gutter, there are nails that hold it in place, some of which stick out a centimeter. I hung a bird feeder from one of the nails; I can see the bird feeder through the window from where I sit doing blogs. I filled the bird feeder with birdseed. For much of the day, it has lots of pretty birds visiting it. Therefore my life is better than it would be otherwise.
Is it the best kind of bird feeder? I have no idea. Is hanging it from a nail sticking out a couple centimeters from a flimsy metal gutter somehow bad homeownership? No idea. Am I training the birds to be indolent, to be entitled; am I filling them with birdseed and sending them forth to rain feces upon someplace that otherwise would receive a lesser smattering of it? No idea. The birds are pretty, and they are alive, and they’re on the bird feeder, and that is good. When they’re not eating from the bird feeder, they perch nearby and sing to each other.
The other day I heard a fast, rhythmic pecking sound from outside, like a woodpecker. Oh no, I thought, the woodpeckers have come to eat my house, which is wood. But then I looked out the window, and I saw: It was not a woodpecker. It was a very pretty little white and black and powder blue bird—a nuthatch, I am almost certain—who would select a sunflower seed from the mixed birdseed in the feeder, and carry it over to a level place, like the patio railing. There the bird would set the sunflower seed, and, bang-bang-bang-bang, crack it open with its sharp little beak. Then the bird would flutter back over to the bird feeder for another sunflower seed. I watched the bird eat sunflower seeds this way for an hour. Then, presumably satisfied with its meal, it flew off into a nearby tree and sang some. It was good.
Sometimes a squirrel tries to ransack the bird feeder—he (I think it’s a he, or maybe I’m gendering the squirrel’s pathologically dumb behavior) tries to climb down to it from the roof, which means he ends up upside-down on the bird-feeder, with his head pointed down and his tail up—and almost always he wipes out in glorious fashion, though sometimes not before he gets some bites of birdseed. Two days ago he accidentally pulled the entire bird feeder off the gutter and both of them crashed to the deck below and he ran off, probably from embarrassment, then came back an hour later, after I’d refilled and re-hung the bird feeder. A good squirrel. Probably there are things I could do to keep the squirrel from doing this, but I’m not sure I want to.
You can hang a bird feeder from someplace near a window where you sometimes are. They’re cheap; you can score one from Home Depot or the garden section of Walmart or wherever for like 10 bucks. Here is a picture of a bird feeder. It’s just a tube with some scoop-shaped perches sticking out below some well-placed holes in its sides. You could make one out of a plastic water bottle, no problem. Do you have a balcony? A window box? Is there a frickin’ solid surface somewhere above a window, where you can bang in a nail when your landlord is not looking? C’mon. You can do this.
Birds will come hang out on your bird feeder. Even if you live in stinky concrete hell, I bet you will score some birds. You will be sitting there doing whatever—blogs, or eating cereal, or TPS reports, or sobbing—and then hey, look! Out the window! A bright blue bird! Two little yellow guys, eating together! A nuthatch! It’s a bird party!
Maybe your life will still be unsatisfying! But it will have more birds in it than it had yesterday, and birds are better than no birds. Hang a bird feeder. Thank you.