The Truth about Inconvenience - Christine Kane

The post office closes at noon here on Saturdays. I jumped into my car at 11:45 last Saturday, thinking I’d make it in the nick of time. I had just returned from a two-week road trip, so there was lots of catching up to do. I was tired and overwhelmed by my return to the “real world.”

About two miles down the road, I saw a bird lying in the street. It was a female cardinal. She had been hit by a car. Her head was on the pavement, and she flapped her wings wildly. Without a thought, I did a U-Turn, got out of my car, picked her up and headed back home. Mickey was in his car coming up behind me. He rolled down his window and without even asking what I was doing, he said, “I’ll follow you home and help.” (He knows this scene well.)

My plan for the day went out the window. My visions of efficiency and productivity were gone. I shifted gears and became present to something I believe to be more important than efficiency and productivity.

Truth #1 about Inconvenience: It’s not always convenient to be of service.

(Mothers know this one all too well.) It’s rarely convenient to have compassion — for a friend, for an animal, for your child, or your spouse. Changing your plans can challenge the inner time-keeper. It’s embarrassing to admit that a very selfish part of you wanted your day to go differently and move in the direction that your iCal said it would. But if you breathe deeply, then you’ll move beyond these ego tantrums.


I got out an empty cardboard box, lined it with a t-shirt, and carefully put the cardinal in it. Mickey mixed some “Star of Bethlehem” flower essence (for trauma) and water in an eyedropper. I gave her just a bit. Her beak stopped bleeding after about five minutes. Her breathing remained intense and she moved her head around a lot. I put the box in the pantry so she could de-stress in the dark. I said some prayers and stayed calm. I called Wild For Life, an amazing wild animal rehab space in Asheville. I left a message. I named the cardinal Caledonia.

Truth #2 about Inconvenience: Being a Drama Queen, a Martyr, or a Rescuer are not options.

You might not always know why you were called to serve a situation. It’s best to keep your eyes and heart open without bringing your drama, blame, fear and expectation to the table. This is challenging. In this case, I wanted to hate the person who hit the bird and kept driving. I wanted to hate cars. I wanted to blame Henry Ford. (I kid you not.) And the cardinal wasn’t exactly acting grateful the way, say, a Disney cardinal would act.

I noticed these voices and realized that they don’t serve the situation at all. Everyone is doing the best they can. Everyone is evolving in the way they know how. This is how I chose to show up today. It doesn’t mean anyone else has to join me. In the words of Marianne Williamson: “Since our minds do not stop at our brain casings – since there is no place where one mind stops and another starts – then our love touches everyone and so does our fear.”


Susie at Wild for Life returned my call, and I drove Caledonia over. I got to walk around the grounds and meet Pretty Boy, the turkey vulture who spent all his time nuzzling Willow, a hawk who wanted nothing to do with him. I met some baby squirrels that were knocked out of their nest by a basketball intentionally thrown by reckless teens. I met some owls that had been shot. (You can’t imagine what it’s like to be stared at by an owl.) Mostly I was inspired and grateful to know that Wild for Life exists, that these women are doing beautiful work in the world, and that they’re using their strength and power to serve in this way. I gave Susie a twenty-dollar bill to cover the expense of Caledonia.

Truth #3 about Inconvenience: There’s no such thing as inconvenience.

There’s only the present moment and what you choose to do with it. What our productivity-obsessed culture calls inconvenience, enlightened people call presence.


Susie called me a few times to report on Caledonia’s progress, which was slow. Her brain was severely injured and her eyes indicated lots of swelling. Susie said we’d wait and see.

This morning she called to tell me that Caledonia died during the night.

Truth #4 about Inconvenience: You don’t always get validated for your inconvenience.

I do believe in happy endings. I believe that Chicken Soup for the Soul and similar inspirational books serve a valuable purpose.

And I also know that not every act of kindness or courage or attention has a triumphant, results-oriented ending. It’d be nice if they did. Then we could prove to our doubting voices that “See? I did the right thing!”

The truth is that sometimes you don’t get to know the reason why you did something good. If this was Chicken Soup for the Soul, then Caledonia would have lived and gone on to save millions of lives, and I would be a hero. All for the low cost of one Saturday in my life! But that’s just ego. Right now, I only get to know that she was warm when she died, and that cars weren’t zooming over her as she lay in the road. I trust that that somehow made a huge difference.


Truth #5 about Inconvenience: When all else fails, you can create your own Chicken Soup for the Soul ending.

(I just got this idea as I wrote this post.) Wild for Life is getting prepared for their busy season. They’ve already got a new baby owl and several baby squirrels, in addition to dozens of other animals. Some summers they have to turn away animals. If you’d like to donate money to create a Chicken Soup ending for Caledonia, I have created a space in my PayPal account to accept donations for Wild for Life. (They don’t have a PayPal account yet, but I’m going to create one for them as soon as we all have time) Any donations that my readers make (by clicking on the donate button below), I will deliver in person to Wild for Life. I’ll print out your names and each receipt so that you can check with them to make sure they got it. (And this is not a pressure thing, or a guilt thing. You can donate by saying a small prayer today. And you can still leave a comment either way!! 🙂 )

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  • Elizabeth Silorey

    Oh, how great it feels to know how “normal” I really am! We had been in our new home less than one month and these cardinals have been my one joy to see out my window each day. So know my despair when looking out my kitchen window I see my beloved female cardinal in the middle of the busy road just beyond my backyard. And worse to see three, maybe four cars immediately zooming directly over her. The wind catching her, making her fight for her life! Seeing this, I hate myself for the vain thoughts that made me hesitate to run straight away to save her. Slipping my shoes on and dashing through the soaked grass in my mismatched pajamas I ran to the side of the road. An oncoming white truck was kind enough to intentionaly avoid the injured bird which gave me a minute to, again think vainly (oh, this guy sees me with my uncombed hair and in my pajamas!) and to run out and scoop up my grateful female friend. At this very minute she is snug in a box awaiting her fate. It just so happens I am without a car today and possibly tomorrow. Me and my young son prayed and gave her what we had, water, apple, rasins and oats in hopes that she will hang in there until we can get her to our rehab facility here in Michigan. Her eye is bloody but she is alert and hopefully warm enough. And yes, today of ALL days was going to be one of my major cleaning, organizing and noisiest days since we moved in being I was going to be stuck here without a car. Now I find myself tip toeing around the house so my little patient can concentrate on more important things than a well scrubbed, organized house! She can concentrate on life and the songs I hope to hear her singing once again. We are certainly kindered spirts in this aspect of our lives.

  • GeL (Emerald Eyes)

    Hi Christine,
    This is a touching post, but moreso than the obvious, you write well about the your caring philosophy of life. Ex. “Truth #3 about Inconvenience: There’s no such thing as inconvenience.
    There’s only the present moment and what you choose to do with it. What our productivity-obsessed culture calls inconvenience, enlightened people call presence.”

    We all can make a difference if we choose to.
    BTW, I’m a visual artist and writer who breezed in here via Tammy V’s link and request to see if your blog link is working.I’m delighted the link is working fine. I also enjoyed reading your most current post regarding jealousy and envy. I put you in my list of favorites.

  • Christine Kane

    Hi Aimee, Well, I will encourage readers of this post to click on your name and read your blog and all the great stuff in it! Thanks for linking!

    Thanks Carla! (and Alyson) I would add “cynicism” to your list of poisons. Ultimately, it’s just fear though, you know? And willingness is just willingness to act from a space of love…

  • Carla Sanders

    I love this post, Christine, and thanks to Alyson Stanfield for passing your blog along. Last night some friends and I were talking about complacency as a poison to life and earth. A willingness to be inconvenienced is the antidote, and it makes all the difference. Caledonia lives!

  • Aimee

    Awesome post. Thanks so much for emailing it to me, and I have linked to it on my blog. 🙂

  • Christine Kane

    hi shan. thanks for your note. the lesson about not making judgments is a big huge one. sometimes the most judging i witness in the world comes from the people who are ostensibly doing “good” out there and they think everyone else should live by their standards!

    michelle – i think it’s always going to come down to what you (or i) choose to focus on. there are ALWAYS people doing good out there!

    thanks for the kind words, luann! i’m glad this post brightened your day!

  • Luann Udell

    ***Right now, I only get to know that she was warm when she died, and that cars weren’t zooming over her as she lay in the road. I trust that that somehow made a huge difference.***

    It’s a joy to know someone who could empathize so much with the last few minutes of such a tiny being’s life, is in the world.

    I just discovered your blog, & read a few entries. You write with clarity and passion and COMpassion, something we need more of in the world.

    And who’s to say your experience with Caledonia WASN’T a “chicken soup” moment? It resonated with me. It reminded me on this dreary New England supposedly-“spring” day that there is much in the world to inspire us, much to move us, and much to teach us.

    Thank you for writing.

  • Luann Udell

    >>Right now, I only get to know that she was warm when she died, and that cars weren’t zooming over her as she lay in the road. I trust that that somehow made a huge difference.

  • Michelle

    Hearing about people caring like that makes me feel hopeful that the world isn’t as bad as sometimes you might think. As long as there are people who will stop for (and nurse) those who can’t help themselves there’s got to be a lot of good things going on.

  • Shan

    Whoops. I’m not sure what happened with my font layout.

  • Shan

    I love that places like Wild for Life are out there in the world. A squirrel fell out of a tree in my
    backyard and when I called my vet. he told me to take it to one of those paycheck loan places because
    the owners were wildlife rehabilitators. I did and they were wonderful people who nursed the squirrel
    back to health. The fact that people who make a living selling paycheck loans were also nurturing wildlife rehabilitators
    was a paradox to me and a good lesson in not making judgments.

  • ChickiePam

    Hi Christine,
    Yes! I could watch it with one of my chickens! But I’m way more likely to watch it with my dog or one of my cats…or all of them! Or maybe my hamster…and the fish can’t get away from the rooom, so they’ve HAVE to at least listen…

  • Caren

    My oldest son learned to read so he could read Calvin & Hobbes. We had a couple of books, and I read them to him literally every free minute we had, which was apparently not enough for him. (I’m talking hours and hours each day! It’s what he was into.) So – he’d take them while I stepped away to make dinner or whatever, and he’d sound out the words. We both cried the first time we read the raccoon story. And the first time HE read it. Thanks for the memories… it’s been a few years! Need to dig those books out.

  • Christine Kane

    and thanks for all the kind and happy comments about the DVD! (Pam – you could sit and watch it with one of your chickens..??)

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks to everyone for your thoughts and comments. The donations have been pouring in! (I’ll give a total tomorrow!)

    Sherry – Quick thought. Julia Cameron says that Art is born in attention. She talks about how often people feel creative during turmoil. She says that’s because they are finally paying attention. I agree. AND I don’t think that pain needs to equal suffering. I’m not even sure that the bird “suffered” in the way we humans think. Animals, somehow seem wiser in their deaths than we do.

    Sally – I totally understand. I found a kitten that died one month after he got healthy and happy (and so cute!) It was very intense. Go to this website and scroll down to the bottom and send it to your husband. It’s the very best Calvin & Hobbes ever – the series where he finds the baby raccoon.

  • sally

    I enjoyed this post.
    Very timely for me also, as just last week my husband and I rescued an abandoned wild kitten.
    The kitten ended up dying, and we were devestated. My husband particularly, was struggling with finding
    the sense in it all.
    I don’t necessarily believe there IS any great reason for such events..
    Like you were talking about in relation to abandoned schedules-
    It’s not about how we thought it would be, it’s about the moment, and being fully present in it.
    Something calls upon our compassion, and we act. That is what’s important.

  • ChickiePam

    Hi Christine,
    I’ve done many rescues of animals I didn’t know before their time of need. I’ve also sat up many night nursing one of my own who had been injured. I once had a chicken living in my bedroom fro two months (Bruce was a VERY understanding man! When someone told me that it was just not “normal” to have a chcken living in my bedroom for months and certainly even less “normal” for my partner to be accepting of it, I asked him if he was OK with it…hadn’t occurred to me to do so before that time…and he said that he wouldn’t have it any other way!) I’d do it again.

    MY DVD ARRIVED!!!!! Whoooooo whoooooo!!!! I will probably wait until my daughter comes back from strping break and wwatch it with her….or I could just watch it by myself and then again with her.

    Love ya!

  • Sherry Borzo

    I’ve often thought about how present I feel when I feel in times of sorrow. Maybe one of the benefits of suffering is that it makes us very aware of the time we’re feeling it. Could there be something powerful and affirming in the recognition of living in that single breath or that intense feeling of anguish? I don’t know. I guess I’m trying to find the benefit of pain.

  • mk

    ohboyohboyohboy! my dvd just arrived. i’m taking it with me to linville falls in the hopes that there’s a dvd player where i’m staying.

    love,love mka

  • Caren

    You know, there was an e-mail circulating a couple years ago, about a disheveled man shopping in a department store. No one would help him, because he smelled bad, etc., but finally one clerk stepped forward to help, and he made a huge sale, plus got like a thousand-dollar tip. That e-mail annoyed me to no end! ‘Cause I thought – why not help, just because the guy is *human*. Even if he only bought a $3 pair of earrings, and didn’t leave an outrageous tip. Your post reminded me of that — stepping forward to be connected and compassionate without needing a Disney ending. (Don’t like Disney much, either.)

    Thanks, Christine — your post got me teary-eyed!

  • Diotima

    Christine, my personal philosophy is that it all eventually boils down to vibration/resonance, and that the vibrations of our thoughts and feelings change not only ourselves, but the world around us, kind of like the way an untouched string on a guitar will vibrate in response to a neigboring string that was plucked. So the resonance of love and caring ALWAYS changes the world for the better. Sounds like you and Mickey and the Wild for Life folks added a lot of that to the mix this week. So there’s yet another chicken soup ending!

  • barb

    you are right, I cried. last spring I hated myself for senselessly putting the hummingbird feeder on the clothes line. (although it worked well the past summer) bam, it was a dead ruby throat hummer. the bird gods know that i was cussing myself and I said a prayer over its tiny body and asked for forgiveness. Later that summer, a hummer got caught in the sun room (another bad habit; leaving the door open for the dogs) I captured it, it was shaking and not acting right. I was cussing again but I put her in a box, sat with her and gave her suger water and she came around. soon she was alert, then crapped in the box and took off for the red bud. I hope for no accidents this year. barb

  • mk

    thanks for your comment on my blog! i responded to it there. and i had mentioned you too in that original post – wow i know some really amazing people. 🙂

  • mk

    last I heard they were okay.

  • Paula Kawal

    I did this exact same thing once with a sick seagull I had found on the beach and it ended in much of the same way. My feeling on it is that the outcome is less important than the process of taking moments to reach out and experience our connectedness to the life around us…it is a moving and growing experience when we actually allow ourselves permission to ‘get involved’ in being alive 🙂 . Good Post!

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks Joy! (and thanks for the donation too :-)) And yep – it’s all about donations. And because those women are spending all their time with the animals – they don’t have a whole lot of time to raise money! (and, much like artists, they’re not very good at that part of the equation either.)

    mk – thanks! so — are the owls okay now?

  • mk

    when i checked the link to make sure it works i noticed that i talk about my owl protecting friend in that post. cool!

  • mk

    you are just so amazingly right on! a friend of mine was on self-appointed owl duty last week. he put the cutie back in the tree with its parents several times (once it was standing next to a busy street watching the traffic go by). it took my friend a few days to realize that there were 2 babies!! thanks for stopping for the animals. i get that i hate cars, people suck thing too. for example
    love the new site!!!

  • Joy

    you’re right. Wild For Life is an amazing place. i recently visited there for the first time. it needs lots of volunteers – especially in the spring when the motherless babies of all kinds are brought to them. Wild For Life operates on donations and your readers should know that every penny they donate goes to the nurturing, care, medical needs and feeding of injured and orphaned animals.

  • Christine Kane

    Thanks kloudiia. (your sister might want to listen to my song “Four Legs Good. Two Legs Bad.” just for fun!) I’m happy you’re feeling a little more “reconnected.” That’s a good thing. (And we all lose that connection from time to time. So, no worries!) 🙂

  • Kloudiia

    “What our productivity-obsessed culture calls inconvenience, enlightened people call presence.”

    This sentences strikes a chord in my heart Christine. So well-said. I am someone who hates inconvenience really, in fact I just came home from a trip which was pretty needless in fact, and my laptop started giving me so much problems I thought I was about to go crazy as I sat there thumping and waiting, all the while counting those seconds and minutes lost.

    Your post has reconnected me to my inner self. My sister saved a dog too, and gladly she has been nursed to health now and we’re paying for her to be taken care of. You’re right, not every inconvenient act on our side will bring a result we would have wanted. But in the very least, we have shown what humanity is all about.