A pelican came to my beach. I watched with both interest and amusement as it swooped down time and time again trying to catch a fish. While it glided through the sky with incredible grace it impacted the water with a heavy, loud clumsiness. It seemed to ignore the water’s surface to focus only on it’s silver prey just below. I found myself rooting for a successful dive. It didn’t care. The only difference between failure and success was a brief pause to throw back its neck to swallow the fish in one mighty gulp. And then up to try again. The boldness of this bird drew me. It’s prehistoric appearance made me acutely aware of its lengthy existence on this earth. I reflected on this wonderful bird. I welcomed it to my beach, recognized its beauty and felt a little smug with my appreciation of this miracle of nature.
But this was not my beach. I see a different perspective and feel humbled. The pelican didn’t give a hoot about my perception of ownership. It owned this beach and all the beaches. While I needed proof of mortgage, fortune of birthplace and luck of money, it needed nothing. Its ownership of the beach was dependent on simply being there and looked the same as its predecessors a hundred years ago and a thousand years before that. Mine, on the other hand was about as flimsy as the survival of a paper boat on rough seas. How easily we are able to fool ourselves. We ignore the tenuousness of human wealth to the point of stupidity. We let it define not only what we have, but also ridiculously who we are. Possession gives us a sense of invincibility. It draws us further away from becoming nothing until this inevitability of all man is buried so deeply under our pile of things, believing it is easy. Maybe we have to do this to survive our finite lives and moments of reflection like this should be just that – moments to remind us briefly to seek not only the joy that things give us but to know that our bare self underneath it all is someone we still know and love.
I gazed at the pelican on his beach and thought I heard a laugh in its screech.