Lame Animal Totem: Passenger Pigeon

Happy-Go-Lucky in a Dangerous World
I’m into Passenger Pigeons this month because their closest relatives—Band-Tailed Pigeons—have been showing up at my bird feeders. Scientists are now asking people (this means you!) to put up feeders, because human interference appears to be killing off all birds, everywhere. Buzz-kill, huh? But wait! It gets worse!

Passenger Pigeons were once the most abundant birds in North America, so numerous that flocks of them could darken the entire sky. They were also very friendly, so people used to club thousands of them a day, just to pass the time (this was before YouTube). This continued with undimmed enthusiasm until 1914, when the very last Passenger Pigeon died in captivity. Her name was Miss Martha. (Coincidence? Yes.)

But I digress. If your totem animal is the Passenger Pigeon, you are happy-go-lucky to the point of insanity. You walk through dangerous neighborhoods in nothing but swimwear, carrying wads of cash in your outstretched hands. You accept massages from maximum-security prisoners. You’re sure that your neighborhood serial killer just needs a little yoga, maybe someone to hold a space when he gets triggered. You may well be dead.

Use Passenger Pigeon energy to feel blithely unconcerned during medical testing and political elections. Call on it to help you accept abuse, agree with psychopaths, and always, always blame yourself. And as you hang up your own bird feeder near your own home (please!) expect the spirit of Passenger Pigeon to remind you that it is good to be innocent and hopeful, even in a dangerous world.

2 replies
  1. Kelly Caiazzo
    Kelly Caiazzo says:

    Thankfully, Passenger Pigeon is not my animal totem. I am going to have to scour archived posts in efforts to find one (or more) that I relate to. The humor and poignancy laced together in your writing style is irresistible. Your ability to recognize that some ideas deserve both an eye-roll and also our attention is refreshing, and I wish it weren’t so rare. I am reading, and loving, The Joy Diet right now. Thanks for all the work you do, particularly your writing, which makes your influence and ideas accessible to so many.

  2. Cyndy
    Cyndy says:

    Love the shoutout for the hungry birds. We have an industrial garbage can that gets filled to the rim with birdfood, and needs refilling every few weeks. Our backyard is a nature preserve…and the happeninist spot in the neighborhood, every night of the week!

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