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You Don't Have To Be Original

Story ID:2146
Written by:Michael Timothy Smith (bio, link, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Writers Conference:$100 Best Inspirational Post Contest
Location:Fort Lee New Jersey USA
Year:2007
Person:Me
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You Don't Have To Be Original

I sat on my deck and enjoyed the evening. Birds chirped
and fluttered around the birdfeeder in the backyard. Finches
clung to a bag of thistle hanging on a tree branch, only ten
feet from me. They'd grown used to my presence and no longer
flew away when I stepped out for fresh air. I sat and watched
them pull the thistle through the tiny openings in the fabric.
Their feathers - red, purple and yellow - were beautiful.

From a distant tree, I heard the song of a cardinal - purdy,
purdy, purdy. The song changed. It was a starling. Next, it was
a version of the robin's evening song. A little later it was
a song I couldn't identify.

It was a mocking bird. For more than thirty minutes, he
sang through his repertoire of songs. He was loud; his singing
perfect. He didn't have a song of his own. He mocked the songs
of other birds, pieced them together, and created a concert
for my enjoyment.

I was reminded of "American IdolŠ," a show my stepdaughter,
Heather, has me addicted to. Hopeful singers sang the songs of
others and were judged by a panel of three. The top contestants
went to Hollywood, where they competed against other successful
singers. Each week they faced new challenges and one-by-one
they were eliminated, until a winner was chosen.

The mocking bird continued to sing, ignoring the hammering
from down the street, where a carpenter was building a house.
He used skills, learned as a young man, to construct a basic
house. Over time, the carpenter learned more. He added his
personal touch to his work. He took the basics he learned
from those before him and made it a creation of his own.

The mocking bird, the winner of "American IdolŠ," and
the carpenter have a common link. They took the ideas of
others, copied and learned from them. They added to what
they learned and created their own works of art.

We don't have to be original. We start with the building
blocks placed in our path by those before us. We have a
choice: we can continue to copy or we can add our own blocks
for the next to follow and learn from.

I have to run. I hear my mocking bird outside. I want
to hear what he has created for my enjoyment today.

Michael T. Smith


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