birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Seeing Rightly

The essential things in life according to the book The Little Prince are not seen with the eyes but with the heart. One of the first things I learned in nursing school was the assessment of the ABC’s. Airway, breathing circulation. Air is pretty essential to life. It powers our heart and blood stream and our words of communication. And yet, it was not my first thought when I read the topic. Essential is described as a thing that is absolutely necessary. When I read the topic, my thoughts tended towards a bed, food, a book to read, a computer, a shower, water, an occasional massage. 

Those things that are important in my life are not absolutely necessary but things that I have come to rely on for my comfort. 


As I have gotten older I realize that I have become overtaken by my inability to be uncomfortable. I feel as though it were a weakness and in some ways if I am unwilling to be uncomfortable then weakness is an apt description. 

I would not describe myself as a weak person though. I have lived in a cabin in the woods with a tin shower. I have worked on a reservation and used a hose for a shower. I have migraines and I do not take pain medicine for them. 

So I like having to look at and ponder about what is essential to being me.

I don’t think it is those things that are outside of me. My mother used to say that coffee, toilet paper, haircuts and tuna fish all must be of top quality and everything else can be negotiated. 

We used to laugh but here again, I still remember her list and the order. 

I would venture to say that stimulation of my brain in writing and working is essential in order to keep the neurons firing and making connections. My brain needs lubrication and a lot of discipline and practice to work. 

I think I need physical movement regularly in order to keep my joints articulating and willing , my heart continuing to thump out the oxygen to the fingers and toes and my lungs willing to expand and contract with regularity. 

I need a perspective so that I can laugh. I spent a good deal of my time as a child taking things entirely too seriously because I thought I was not smart enough to keep up. As soon as I thought I mastered one thing, I learned that it had changed. I come from a long line of funny people and now I can better see the humor in everything but it is as essential as air to me today.

I need touch and companionship to soften and hold my heart and to challenge my edges so I can find the rough tender spots. I am but one dimensional when alone.

I need a connection to my Higher Power, my creator to remind me of my limits and the vastness of the world. I find great hope in knowing that most of the world is unfathomable to me governed by forces that I will never understand completely. I do not need to understand electricity to make use of it. 

And I cannot think of anything more essential to my walking around in the world than knowing more about who I am. And this wonderful exercise reminds me that it is a constant search.

An Almost Fundamentalist