Clown in a birdcage


Around the time of my fifth birthday, a friend of my father’s dropped in to see us. Making polite conversation with me, he enquired what I was hoping to get as a present. I had no hesitation. A budgie in a cage was my heart’s desire. He promised me solemnly that he would obtain the wished-for bird. I’m guessing that my choice was influenced by having seen some Disney film, where an obliging bird perched cheerily on the heroine’s finger and whistled a happy tune on demand.

The birthday dawned and no blue bird of happiness arrived. The disappointment must have been severe enough to persuade my parents to give in to a trip to the local pet shop. A blue budgerigar by the name of Joey in desirable cage with all mod cons was instated on top of the fridge. (Joey turned out to be a misnomer. In a mid-life crisis, he later started laying eggs. We initially thought that one of my brothers was placing sweets in the cage to fool us, but no. Josephine was was definitely not a he.)

The excitement waned gradually as Jo became part of the fixtures and fittings. She also had not the slightest inclination to perch compliantly upon my proffered five year-old finger, choosing instead to turn into a brightly-coloured, flapping, pecking bird of prey. However, left to her own devices, she was amusing enough as she had long conversations with herself in a mirror and strutted the length of the cage floor picking arguments with a toy clown. The clown had a weighted round base, so that everytime he was knocked down, he bounced back upright again. He probably wound Jo up something rotten.

I had a great coaching session yesterday, with me on the receiving end of some challenging questions. The holy trinity of good questions, a night’s sleep and a long walk has worked once again for me. I now have much more clarity on a situation which yesterday had knocked me sideways. Like the little clown in Jo’s birdcage, I have bounced back upright, learning a little resilience and not to give up on a plan so easily. Anything new, creative or a bit different may get attacked, and it sometimes feels easier to stay down than to get up again. I recommend that, if your coach doesn’t get coaching or supervision, ask why. True dialogue works.

“At the heart of good dialogue is a simple but profound instrument to which we pay so little attention: the capacity to listen.” (Ramachander, 2002)

Being heard is a luxury we shouldn’t do without.


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