Bats in the belfry? No, just a terrified wren

Published 9:35 am Monday, November 15, 2010

Column: Something About Nothing

It always starts with a little scratching, a little rustling and some tapping. It then appears. Usually first we have the bird. Once it was a big bird. It was a blackbird. Then later usually the bat appears.

This has happened twice over the years in my office. Last year we thought the problem was solved. We sealed up all the nooks and crannies and took care of the chimney. Peace had settled over my secretary and me.

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Recently, as I entered the office returning from a service call, my secretary said she thought it was noisy in my part of the office. She had heard scratching, rustling and a little squeak. I had not heard anything earlier that morning.

As I trepidatiously climbed the stairs to my office I listened carefully. I heard no sound. I dismissed my secretary’s mood as paranoia. Later she walked into my part of the building and said, “Listen, do you hear that?” I didn’t hear anything above the hum of the computers I was working on. Again I dismissed her fears.

Later in the morning I too thought I heard noises. It was windy and we had just passed the days when the huge winds had settled in our area for a few days. I thought that was what it sounded like, the wind, rustling leaves on the roof. However, I peered suspiciously at my ceiling. Now I was getting paranoid. I dismissed it.

Every once in a while I would hear a noise and peer again at the ceiling. I started to be on edge anticipating that perhaps something was going to be after me. I worried that the men who usually rescued us from the bat, if there was one, were not in town. I worked with one eye on the ceiling while trying to convince myself that I was paranoid.

We both left for lunch. I lingered over my lunch not wanting to go back into the office alone. Talking on the phone to the reasonable male in my family, (I don’t say that very often. Don’t tell him.) He convinced me I was paranoid.

I walked back into my part of the office after lunch. I was on my way downstairs to inform my secretary that we were paranoid when I heard the whir of something fly closely past my head. I screamed and ran down the stairs away from the whir not knowing what type of creature had almost taken my ear off.

My secretary, hearing me scream jumped up and half screamed too. We looked back into the recesses of my office. There it was. There was our visitor. It was a small wren. This wren was more terrified than we were. He flew from window to window, floor to floor not finding the open doors.

We attracted the attention of our business neighbors and one of them came in to help us. She was able to capture the wren in her hands and take him or her out to fly away to freedom.

Later I thought about the waiting that we endured anticipating the immergence of a bird, a bat or something worse that we conjured up in our minds. It is the conjured up in our minds that gets us in trouble. I work in an office that is neat and clean and nice so there is no reason for us to anticipate anything scary happening. Yes, we have had in the 13 years I have been there, two birds and a couple of bats, but they were flukes. It was always at the time of year when everyone else had bats greeting them in the morning too.

It is the anticipation of an event that gets to us. I was not sure whether my mind was playing tricks on me as I was listening to sounds from the ceiling. But whatever I was anticipating took my mind off of the moment and what I was doing.

How often do we do that? We anticipate something that is possibly going to happen in our lives whether it good or bad. We let it overtake our emotions and take us away from the moment. We are not focusing on the task at hand but we are focusing on what could possibly happen in the future. And usually what we anticipate is not as big and exciting as what we had conjured up in our minds. It doesn’t live up to our expectations.

We are so excited anticipating our trip to Disneyland that we miss the Disneyland moments in front of us. We are in fear anticipating what could happen to our children and our family or friends that we miss the moments we have with them right now.

It is hard to wait. I was waiting for a bird, a bat or whatever. We wait for family and friends to get through surgery. We wait to hear if we have gotten the job. We wait for our next paycheck when money is low and we need to buy groceries. We wait and anticipate and conjure up scenarios in our mind that might never happen or if they do they aren’t as bad as we thought. Because we do this we miss the moment.

My anticipation and fear about what was going to develop from the noises in the ceiling was not as bad as I feared. It was not a bat! It was not a big bird! It was a tiny sparrow that like many of us had lost its way. And like us, that sparrow just needed a little help finding a new direction.

In his fear he hit roadblocks (windows), he forgot to go through the door. While we wait and worry to see what the noise is we might miss the moment when the door is open and like the bird we are free.

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at Her blog is Listen to KBEW AM radio 1:30 p.m. Sundays for “Something About Nothing.”