In a conversation I once had with a therapist friend, I was told that there are some who believe there are lessons to be learned in watching animals. The theory is that we tell ourselves the things we need to hear as we watch the animals, and interpret the lessons we can learn from them for ourselves.
Today I will admit to being a "sign seeker." I was seeking confirmation of recent decisions, of the path I have chosen for my life's journey.
As I was driving down Highway 89 in south central Utah, a large bird caught my eye. I'd never had a fascination with birds until I retired last May. I'm not sure if I'm more aware of them because the pace of my life has slowed enough for me to notice them, or if they have just begun to take on a significance in my life.
Slowing my silver Sonata down, I pulled over to the edge of the pavement, driving over those infernal rumble strips, trying to keep track of his movements as I parked. My hands searched blindly behind my car seat for my camera and my telephoto lens. I silently prayed that he would still be there after I attached my lens. When I looked up, he had settled on a sagebrush.
He looked at me, as I looked at him. Seeing me as no threat, he sat there surveying the landscape, probably looking for his breakfast. After awhile, he flew from his perch, gliding up and down over the desert to the west of me. He dove back down to the ground, hidden from view behind the cover of vegetation. I decided to leave him be, and set my camera on the seat beside me. When I looked down the highway, I saw something on top of the speed limit sign, less than 100 yards away.
My car had only slightly accelerated when I decided to slow down to get a better look at the sign. It was another great bird of prey. Driving over the rumble strips once more, I hoped they wouldn't disturb him as he perched on the sign. He paid no attention to me, too busy looking out over the desert. I parked my car, and opened the car door. I couldn't believe my luck. Two of these beauties, close up, and all for me, it seemed.
The majestic bird clung to the sign with his strong talons, getting his bearings for his next move. After I'd snapped several photographs, he gave a great flap of his wings, and he flew out to the east, soaring high, and then low, and then out of my view.
Watching those birds today, I considered what I would tell myself about what I had learned from them. This is what I think I needed to hear myself say today:
Slow down. Don't be in such a hurry. Stop and smell the sagebrush. Rest, and gather your strength.When you are ready to fly, you will soar, and until your wings have sufficient strength, you will need to take good care of yourself to prepare for longer flights, and higher heights. When you are grounded, you will have time to get your bearings, and set your sights on distant horizons. There will be times when you feel you are not progressing, or that your progress is too slow. Get to know that discomfort, and learn from it. When you have learned what you need to from the limits in your life, whether real or imagined, you will be free to soar to new heights, without restriction. Take flight; be free. You've had your signs; now prepare to fly.