The air is cold and brisk as I sit bundled in a cozy blanket with my steaming hot coffee overlooking the lift-locks on this dreary October morning in beautiful Bobcaygeon, Ontario. The trees are magnificent in their full color as the leaves dance on their branches before drifting elegantly to the ground below. As the leaves fall I can’t help but imagine that they are being released by the trees in thanksgiving to Mother Nature; an offering to nourish the earth to perpetuate the cycle of life.
As I look out to the waters below my balcony, there is a cluster of rocks peeking out of the middle of the river and it seems to be a gathering place for seagulls. I must say that seagulls have been a bird that I have dismissed and disrespected for my whole life, often referring to them as “shit-hawks” because of their pest-like and scavenging nature. This morning though, I am surprised to find that the seagulls gathered here are messengers. And I have a strong sense that I am in a present moment of awareness.
The dozen or so seagulls seem to be frolicking between the rocks and the water and the sky. I wonder if they have a purpose or if they simply enjoy the freedom that the breeze and their wings provide? How wonderful it must be to soar so high, to flit about without a specific destination, to glide with Mother Nature fully supported in their exploration. It’s actually quite beautiful to see them gathering together and I find myself curious as to what their squawks mean? What are they saying to one another?
A soft rain has begun to fall and the seagulls have come together in a closer huddle upon the rocks, even a few mallard ducks have joined the flock. All but one lone bird. He drifts down- stream in the current away from the group. He seems lazy in his drifting and yet purposeful at the same time. As if he knows something that the others don’t. Is he older? Wiser?
One seagull leaves the flock and takes to flight to check on the lonely bird. They swoop around, squawking as if to say “come back with us where it is safe.” They then return to the flock on the rocks where there is warmth and safety in numbers. And yet the lone bird who seems quite confident in his mission, in his self, in his decision, simply turns and begins to paddle leisurely towards the rocks. He does not fly. He does not hurry. He simply carries on.
The rain intensifies. And magically the flock on the rocks starts bustling with activity – taking to flight, diving into the waters, snatching up fish or food as if the rains have opened up a plethora of nourishment for them. What’s interesting is that as one seagull catches a fish, the others swarm them. Chasing and pecking and squawking as if to say “share your catch you greedy bugger!” These shenanigans are entertaining to watch as this once calm, safe group of birds now appears to be turning on each other and trying to steal each other’s food.
And yet, my friend who drifts easily in the current, steps onto a rock just below the water’s surface and perches there as if to groom himself. He flutters his wings, uses his beak to clean his feathers in the rain, stretching his neck around to get all the hard to reach places. He appears to be living in a different world than his friends. His own reality. And completely comfortable with it.
Or so I think.
Calmly and nonchalantly, he stretches his beak out into the water and comes up with a fish. He ruffles his feathers as he swallows it down, completely undisturbed by the greedy gulls nearby. He slyly continues grooming himself. Did they not see his catch? Is he a master at masquerading? Has he adapted to his flock in a way that allows him to not only survive but thrive? What just happened?
He seems satisfied with himself as he enters back into the waters and paddles upstream towards the chaos. He is in no hurry. He is calm in the current. He clearly can see the pandemonium ahead and is undisturbed by it. He seems content to do things his own way.
Even amidst the rain.
Even amidst the current.
Even amidst the peer pressure.
Even amidst the winds.
Against the normal.
Against the expectations.
Against the need to fit in.
Some of the other gulls have been successful in filling their bellies. Some are still squawking in protest. And my friend, still paddling upstream appears confident in his calling, in his place amongst the waters. He too seems to have surrendered into oneness with Mother Earth just as the fall leaves have chosen to do.
In gratitude for messengers,