There once was a young mockingbird named Murray. He lived among the numerous flowering trees and shrubs in a small village called Sunorma.
Murray, like many other mockingbirds his age, could replicate almost any sound he heard. Passersby heard the sounds of robins, cardinals, crows, finches, starlings, and others, but they had no idea these sounds usually emanated from just one bird. Murray was proud of his skills and his ability to fool others.
One day, Murray perched on the limb of a beautiful maple tree in the back yard of one of the houses in the village. He noticed once again a small child who had spent several weeks watching and listening to his antics. Today the child sat with her back against the tree and interrupted Murray with a question while he was in the middle of his repertoire of bird songs.
“What does a mockingbird sound like?”
At first Murray neither heard nor noticed she was speaking to him, so she asked her question again. Murray stopped singing and looked at her quizzically. The child gazed back at Murray with her eyebrows raised and palms up, waiting for his response.
Murray took a deep breath and once again bellowed out his usual litany of birdsongs he learned from others. Once he finished, he looked down at his young friend with pride at his accomplishments. She looked at him with disappointed eyes.
“You don’t understand”, she said. “I want to know what a MOCKINGBIRD sounds like.”
Once again, Murray puffed out his chest and recited every bird sound he had ever heard as well as a few cell phone tunes he had mastered. Once again his young friend looked at him with tears welling up in her big blue eyes.
“You keep singing like all the other birds, but don’t you have your own song?”
Murray gripped the branch underneath him with all his strength in his toes. He had never heard such a question. At first he was angry that this young human was questioning his abilities. After all he had a greater repertoire of bird songs than any other mockingbird in Sunorma. He was also the only mockingbird he knew that could recreate the sound of a cell phone. He momentarily pondered his delight at memories of people around him scrambling in their purses and pockets every time he sang those tunes. Indignant, Murray spread his wings and flew off in a flurry of disgust at the lack of respect from this insolent human.
For the rest of the day, Murray flew from tree to tree more than he sang. He was restless and could not sleep that evening. The question kept repeating itself over and over in his little bird brain. He could not figure out why this was bothering him so much. He had done nothing wrong. He was just being a good mockingbird by doing what mockingbirds do.
Weeks went by and Murray was exhausted from his anger and his lack of sleep. He was no longer interested in singing at all and soon he was experiencing a full blown depression. He lost his appetite and he had no interest in anything or anybirdy. He felt like he had flown full speed into a picture window.
One day, just as Murray was about to pull his feathers out, he heard something. It was a familiar, yet strange noise. The faintest of chirping sounds was coming from a nearby honeysuckle bush. Murray mustered all his strength and flew over to investigate. To his surprise, he found a baby robin had fallen from its nest. It was hopping in circles on the ground just under the cover of the shrubbery. Murray landed beside the baby bird to see if he could help. When Murray opened his beak to speak, the only noise that escaped was an exact duplication of the scared cries of the baby bird. Since Murray had no voice of his own, he could only mimic this scared little bird.
This sound did not help the baby bird at all. She thought Murray was in distress as well and began crying louder. Every time Murray opened his beak and tried to speak, the chilling cry just became more intense. The baby bird was frantic. He realized he could help no one, not even himself, if he could not find his own voice. With that realization, Murray became very still and remembered all the sounds he had ever heard. He then cleared his mind and stopped thinking about what sound he was going to make.
Murray finally opened his beak he realized the true importance of having his own voice. The most glorious sound ever made by bird or human was released from his little bird soul. It sounded like everything he had ever heard and like nothing he had ever sung. It was the sound that expressed who Murray truly was. People stopped in their tracks and listened, birds stopped chirping, dogs cocked their heads to one side, and cats found the nearest hiding place. A passing veterinarian, upon hearing Murray’s song, sought out its source and rescued the baby bird. Murray was astonished at the trickle effect of expressing his authentic voice.
The next day, Murray sought out his young companion beneath the maple tree. He spotted the child under the tree and landed on her shoulder. To her astonishment, Murray began singing his new song. Murray was no longer angry. His anger had transformed into gratitude and from that day forward he spent his life singing a new song – his song. And so it is.