For our prompt of “Parrot” today, I ended up with three colorful macaws, because they’re my favorite kind of parrot and I couldn’t decide which version to sketch. As ever, while hunting through various references, I got lost for a bit watching videos of parrots talking. There was one parrot that knew over 350 words, spoke in complete sentences, and also in the voice of its owner. It was equal bits amazing, fascinating and creepy. To me, though, while the ability to talk makes for a fun video, it’s the longevity of parrots that I find the most interesting. The oldest living parrot on record is said to be one named Poncho who will be 93 this year, and is now retired after having worked in many movies alongside Hollywood’s biggest stars. There’s another parrot who is potentially older, but lacks the proper paperwork to prove it. This one is a 114 year old blue-and-yellow macaw named Charlie, and the owner says that it once belonged to Winston Churchill, which made tabloids quickly add an embellished story that Churchill taught her to cuss. Though the ownership was disputed by Churchill’s daughter, it’s still kind of funny to consider. And regardless of the teacher, Charlie the parrot is indeed said to have a rather colorful vocabulary.
As for this Charlie, I doubt I’ll live as long as the parrot version. If I even managed to live as long as my grandmother, who was 99 at the time of her death, then I’m about half way through my life. But, there’s no way to know exactly how long I’ll be around, so I just live each day doing what I love. Sketching birds is certainly on that list. Unlike parrots, dogs don’t live nearly as long, so this will be the decade that we will have to say goodbye to our dear Phineas at some point. But, I was talking with my friend once last year and telling her about the things I was doing and she said, “what a wonderful contribution!” I loved that expression. I think I’d just published another book or something, but those words reminded me that it wasn’t just about me. What I DO has some sort of an effect on others and my sincere hope is that it’s always a positive one. I’m not hoping for fame or fortune, though the latter is something few sensible folk would ever turn down. Instead, I’m just wanting to be a part of things and help to inspire people as I go along in life. And it struck me that while accomplishments are wonderful things, it’s the contributions we make in life that define our legacy.
That’s some rather deep thoughts to come out of watching parrot videos, to be sure, but they’re also happy ones. I truly believe that great things will happen this year and every year after that. Sure, maybe some bad things too, but never enough to shadow the sheer brilliance of the good. And it’s not surprising that longevity would be what inspires me most about parrots. I’m certainly not wanting to become a mimic and, instead, always try and keep things fresh and creative. And, more time equals more chances to contribute. Another day to make something. Another day to try something, fail miserably at it and then shrug it off and try it again with fresh hope. Another blissful day to enjoy a few moments with the ones you love most. And hopefully, in the process, make someone smile. Of all the things I’ve accomplished in life, the memories of moments involving others are the ones that stay in my heart. Sometimes, the most captivating contribution can simply come from showing up in your own uniquely colorful way, like the marvelous macaw.
About the Doodlewash
Da Vinci Paint Co.: Aureolin, Quinacridone Red, Leaf Green, Cobalt Turquoise, Terra Cotta and Ultramarine (Green Shade). Staedtler Pigment Liners in an A5 Hahnemühle Watercolour Book. Want to purchase a print of this doodlewash? Send me a note with a link to this post, and I’ll add it to my shop!