Author Archives: zenzalei

About zenzalei

Writer with a bird. Or, more accurately, bird with a writer.

The courage of getting back out there.

From Journaling Prompts.

What kinds of acts could be described as courageous, and why?

Aside from the usual things—running into a burning building to save someone, standing up for what one believes in, etc.—I’d say one of the most courageous acts is to put oneself out there in search of a partner after a tremendous hurt. It’s a risk that you take that, unless and until you find someone that you spend the rest of your life with, is not likely to go in your favor.

That sounds pessimistic, but we’re not birds. We generally don’t mate for life with the first partner. The average person starts dating in high school, but few marry their high school sweethearts. Most people who date and search for a partner have a few relationships before they decide to commit for good. Along the way they suffer break-ups, and while break-ups, or at least the events leading up to them, may cause some unhappiness, that’s part of life. It’s normal, and not what I’m talking about. Same for people who part ways as friends. It might be bittersweet, but it’s not devastating.

I’m talking about those who suffer an excruciatingly painful break-up owing to betrayal, infidelity, abandonment, abuse, or a nasty, protracted divorce, something that leaves their lives and hearts in tatters, yet they decide to put it behind them and try again. That takes guts, because they’ve already experienced some of the worst that a partner can dish out, so they know what is possible. They also know how much pain they, themselves, are capable of feeling. Sure, they may use the wisdom of experience to try to avoid partners who would do what the previous one did, but the reality is that you can’t be 100% sure of anyone. That’s what causes such tremendous hurt in the first place: You think you know someone and you think there is this one person in all the world who accepts you for who you are, even with your faults and flaws, and this person will always have your back, love you, and be there for you to love in return, and it turns out that’s not the case.

Do I have that courage? Probably, but I’m not sure I’ll ever find out. It took me a long time to recover from my last relationship, to where I no longer felt grief and could look at a picture of my ex and think, “Meh. Whatever.” It took so long, in fact, that now I just can’t be arsed. I’m not afraid of letting someone get to know me or letting someone in. Yeah, sure, I could tell someone my stories and what I stand for and he can adore me or not. I just don’t feel any urge to get to know someone else. There is almost always something I’d rather do with my leisure time than go on a date, like read, watch a movie, hang out with my bird, go out with friends, hike, write, listen to music, or visit a museum.

Maybe in this culture with all of its pressure to partner up and the stigma it inflicts upon single people, that’s courageous, too.


While looking back over this blog last night, deciding which entries to archive to private mode and which entries to leave public, I read my 2018 year-end entry.

Quick refresher: 2018 kind of sucked in that Inigo was diagnosed with a testicular tumor:

All in all, 2018 was a mostly stressful year, one that taught me how to make tough decisions and dedicate myself to seeing trying situations through to the end. That will continue into the first half of 2019, as next year will most certainly bring loss and a tremendous amount of sorrow—I got Inigo in 2002, when he was six months old, and he has been my constant companion through thick and thin—but the most valuable thing I learned in 2018 is to live in the present. I have travel plans for 2019 and much to look forward to later in the year, but I stop short of saying “I can’t wait for that” because, knowing what will come first, I can. Today is its own gift, and I will make the most of it.

Well, that will teach me to be so pessimistic. He’s still chugging along, beyond even his extended prognosis of last August.

I do notice that he’s slowing down. He is losing strength in his good foot. He has arthritis. He hasn’t flown in three years. He needs two kinds of pain medications, and still, every now and then he lets out a tiny little squeal when he turns the wrong way. Sometimes he loses his grip and slips or falls.

Yet aside from his tumor, a lot of that is just plain age. Nanday Conures usually live 20 to 25 years in captivity, and Inigo is now 18 years old, a senior bird. But he still loves his nanners, especially after a bath…


He still keeps an eye on me…


He’s still engaged with toys and new experiences…


And he still tries to eat the phone.

So we take it day by day.

This week he’s in for a treat, as he’s going to birdie camp tomorrow while I travel. He loves my friend. She’s got a way with birds, and she was the one who worked with my Green Cheek Conure, Jimmy, before I adopted him. Jimmy didn’t have the best life before he was relinquished to Phoenix Landing, and she helped him get his spirit back, with the result that we had over five great years together before he passed in 2011. Plus she’s blonde, and Inigo luuuuuurves blondes. (I’m blonde, too.) He always comes back from his visit with her in fine spirits, and he tells me all about it for days.

Just goes to show, though, that he has a strong will to stick around. At this point his last vet–alas, he moved to Florida–didn’t want to give him another prognosis date, and instead settled on the word “indefinitely.” So that’s how my little buddy and I take it: One day at a time, indefinitely.