This Lorikeet Life.

I watch the lorikeets as they fly in search of a tree to settle in, wavering, hovering like a rainbow-coloured constellation as they tick off their selection criteria one by one. Shady spot, fairly dense foliage, enough protection from possible rainfall, not too close to walls so predators can spring unannounced.

As they choose a large scribbly gum the squabbling begins. The higher branches are the more favoured positions. Wings jostle like elbows, beaks snap at unsuspecting tail feathers, there is pushing and shoving; all the intrigue of a proper drama series is there.

I wonder how the lorikeets establish their pecking order. Is former bad behaviour taken into account? Are there some birds who don’t pull their weight or go against the wishes of the flock? Is consideration valued over strength? Is courage valued above compliance?

As my son and I watched he said that birds are nothing like people. The leaders are leaders because they look out for the group as a whole, not just for themselves. The group is just as important as one single bird. He said that humans decide who is important in a different way – by how big your house is, or what type of car you have, or how much money you earn. It’s all about being better than everyone else, not working hard to make sure the group is the best it can be. I was afraid my son was turning into a cynic until I discovered how he had come to this conclusion.

My friend, Ellena, and I have been friends for over 20 years. We have gone through so much together but lately our relationship has been strained due to her husband’s infidelity. She has caught him with other women, thrown him out, and taken him back four times. The aftermath of his infidelity is exhausting. Ellena freely admits that one of the reasons she can’t let him go is because of his massive salary. They have a very nice life. Holiday house. Boat. Bulging share portfolio. An apartment for his mistress.

How she is able to turn a blind eye to his other life without falling apart is a story for another day but one of the reasons is she doesn’t want to deny her children a lifetime of golden opportunities. They go to two of the top schools in Sydney. Their combined school fees are in excess of $60,000 per year which is just about what Alfie and I take home to our meagre little rented household.

Ellena invited us over for a party on Boxing Day. Jake didn’t want to go. He had plans to watch the cricket. We were invited over again on New Year’s Eve. Jake didn’t want to go, he wanted to watch the fireworks down at the Harbour. Jake and Ellena’s kids grew up together. For about 7 or 8 years they were inseparable so I was surprised he turned down two invitations in a row to see them. I thought they might have had a little tiff. Sometimes Jake can be oversensitive and fall out with people because they’ve said they didn’t like what he was wearing or he’s hopeless at football; but I sensed there was something more to it than that.

As we watched the birds, Jake admitted there was a problem with his old friends. Jake is going into the sixth grade this year. In 2009 he will be starting High School. Seems Ellena’s son was quite scathing about the fact that Jake was ‘far too poor’ to attend his posh school. Ellena’s daughter was equally scathing about Jake’s future career prospects claiming he would just end up working in a shop like his Dad, while her brother would be a corporate lawyer or an investment banker. ‘I can’t forgive them,’ Jake said.’ They think they are better than me because their Dad has more money than mine. That’s not being a true friend.’

It’s hard putting my relationship with my old friend on hold for the moment but I feel Jake has a right to his indignation. Does a true friend love you for what you have or for who you are?

As I watch the lorikeets settle to sleep, I notice how the smaller ones cosy up to the larger ones. Wings are extended as they gather together, the pecking order forgotten.There is a calm within the ranks as the garden changes colour and drowsy feathers fluff. Together, they are one. I realise that as humans, we still have a lot to learn.

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17 thoughts on “This Lorikeet Life.

  1. One thing I miss about Australia is those lovely coloured birds in the garden. Also fell a bit lumpy when my friend in Florida tells me about the cardinals and jays in his.

    And, what do I get? Sparrows!!

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  2. a TRUE friend LOVES you for WHO you are. But…they are at THAT age when ‘possession’ come into play.

    As for your friend, I can see why / how she ‘deals’ with the infidelity. However, I am not built that way.

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  3. You do have a very wise son.

    I love lorikeets too. I call them “sunchasers” because in the late evenings as the sun is vanishing they fly around yelling their heads off and all try to settle in the very top branches where there is still a ray of sun catching the tree tops. Not a single bird on the shaded branches until they simply have to move. Just gorgeous.

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  4. i always believe,, you get what you wish for… your friend wants money and financial security,,, she’s got that.. she cannot ask for fidelity too… it is no longer part of the deal….

    your son is wise beyond his years.. those children have been poisoned,, and they will continue to spew such venom,, and to cut them off is the sanest thing he can do.. i would not encourage him to pursue that friendship at all….

    i think you should be very proud of the foundation of your sons judgments,,, he got that from you….

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  5. I don’t think humans will learn any more than what they know today, unfortunately. We kill, steal, fear, envy and hate just like we did thousands of years ago. Sad but true.

    Jake is smart, though. He must like rock music. I can tell 🙂

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  6. Karen – Jake is wise, although I can’t be sure he gets that from me. I do try to treat people well, though, and I think some of that may have rubbed off. Human relationships are tricky at any age.

    Travelrat – I do like a little sparrow. What about robins, swallows or the lovely greenfinch? I miss those.

    Britt – Sadly, she has. I hope that I’ve passed mine down. Jake does share my taste in music and my love of chocolate. LOL.

    Meleah – I’m not built that way, either. Who can put up with all that heartache and not come out of it unscathed? The money just isn’t worth the anguish.

    Daoine – that is a gorgeous story. Sunchasers, what a lovely way of putting it…..

    Paisley – you are right. The friendship isn’t worth pursuing any longer. I feel sad about it but am unhappy about being subjected to such a warped sense of values. Life is too short for such nonsense.

    Chris – you and Jake would be buddies for sure. He is a rocker though and through.

    Jimmy tomato – good to hear from you! I think he does. He is a bit of a deep thinker.

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  7. Jake is right to shun people like that. I loathe and despise snobbery and if that is they way they figure out someone’s worth by how much money they come from then they are not worth his time. It must be hard for your friend to give up the luxurious life she has become accustomed to but what about self respect and dignity. They are worth more than the complete disrespect and disdain she gets from her husband. Each to their own I guess. Money is absolutely no guide to a person’s worth and this post highlights that fact brilliantly.

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  8. “a TRUE friend LOVES you for WHO you are. But…they are at THAT age when ‘possession’ come into play.” – meleah rebeccah

    Although it was a thousand years ago and in a different world, I remember being that an age. It’s an age when fighting with certain friends at certain times and not being able to forgive them for their tespasses is part and parcel of friendship, of the dramatic excitement of childhood. I remember having a group of friends and there was always someone or someones who were on the outter because what they did or said or failed to do or say. Sometimes it was me who was ostraicised and at other times it was somebody else.

    “but one of the reasons is she doesn’t want to deny her children a lifetime of golden opportunities. They go to two of the top schools in Sydney. Their combined school fees are in excess of $60,000 per year …”

    They (the children) may go to the “two of the top schools in Sydney” – but what a sad and horrible lesson they are learning at home in terms of their parent’s dreadful example.

    Regards,

    David

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  9. Gypsy – self respect and dignity are priceless. You are absolutely right. I think that money in the wrong hands is like a junkie with a gun – same explosive result.

    David – I remember those days too. I think it’s part and parcel of childhood. And you’re right, those kids are being set a dreadful example. I just hope they don’t grow up and treat their spouse or partner the same way.

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  10. CraftyGreen – if only we could stamp out things like snobbery the world would be better off for it. However, true friends make up for a lot of the bad stuff….

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  11. Wow…you have an amazing son who is very very intelligent. 🙂

    I am still caught off guard when I hear people talk about money and relationships.

    I have written about catty comments that I get from people when they learn that I am dating a doctor…and it is very disgusting. They suggest that I am smart to marry for money and assume that I have no career goals of my own because, in their eyes, I’m “set for life.” It’s very cruel (not to mention shocking!) and I actually avoid mentioning his profession now. (Being that I lost my parents in my early 20s, I am fiercely independent so these comments really, really, really irk me!)

    I’m glad that your son got a priceless but, unfortunately, painful life lesson…

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  12. DOCS GIRL – I’m sorry you’ve had to put up with that nonsense. Some people are just downright nasty. I’m also sorry to hear you lost your parents at such a young age. I’m sure they would be very proud of your independent spirit.

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