CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Every morning for weeks, a mockingbird has parked itself just outside our bathroom window, where it serenades my daughter and me as we share a sink, she getting ready for another day in seventh grade, me for another day at my new job with the state.
Usually, when we hear the bird start its routine, we slide the window open a few inches to better hear its song. It seems something so complicated and enthusiastically delivered deserves an audience, even if the singer doesn't know one exists.
This particular bird is extremely longwinded and goes on for ages, seemingly without repetition, though I can't say for certain since he's usually still going strong even longer than it takes two mid-maintenance females to prepare for their day.
I like that he continues to sing regardless of whether anyone is listening. Others might feel their gift wasted if admirers weren't present to notice and appreciate and lavish praise, but those are never the right reasons to sing.
The father of one of my closest friends regularly tends a small old graveyard near his home. It isn't his responsibility. He has no family or loved ones buried there, and he isn't paid for his work. He does it because someone once loved those people, once cried when they died. Out of respect for those strangers, he cares for their graves.
He doesn't waste time complaining that the city or this agency or that group should come do the work. He simply recognizes that something needs done and he does it.
I've watched people out for a walk stop to pick up litter. It would be easier for them to look the other way and pretend it's not there. Their walk would probably be more enjoyable without carrying the empty bottle or wrapper, but they choose to do the right thing even though they're unaware that someone is watching.
This past winter, there were several times I went out after yet another fresh dumping of snow to find my walk had already been cleaned by an anonymous neighbor who sneaked out early to clear the way for several of us lucky enough to live near him.
In life coach Barbie Dallmann's latest e-newsletter, she writes about a time in 1993 when someone had shot the windows out of her car while it was parked in front of her house. She was so furious about the damage that she flew into a rage, but instead of seeking revenge on the person who caused it, she found a use for her anger instead.
Magic Island, near their home, had been left covered with garbage after flood waters receded. Dallmann got a box of trash bags and headed over to the island with her son and one of his friends. They spent the day (and spent Dallmann's anger) filling 20 bags with the trash they collected.