A Turtle sat on the edge of a pond and saw a beautiful Heron standing in the water next to him. The Heron looked down into the water at the fish and the turtles soaking in the day’s sun as they rested on the logs, then turned to the Turtle and asked, “Why can’t I swim like the fish? Why can’t I lay on a log like the turtles?”
The Turtle looked up at the majestic Heron. Her beak, neck, and legs one beautiful long line down to her feet. Her feathers were as white as snow. He could not understand why this lovely bird could not see its own beauty or potential.
The Turtle replied to the Heron, “I was just wondering why I can’t fly up in they sky and soar over the ground like a bird. I am stuck here on the ground. I can swim or lay on the log with the other turtles to sun myself, but all I want to do is fly. You can take the wings you have and do what you do best with them. Just spread your wings and flap them. You are built to fly. Why are you holding yourself back?”
The Heron looked down at its legs and fluffed up its feathers by moving its wings around a bit. “I never flew before. It’s scary. I would rather sit on a log.” the Heron replied to the Turtle.
The Turtle looked up again at the Heron. “You can’t fly, if you don’t try.”
At that moment the Heron started to run ahead through the open field next to the pond and flapped its wings as hard as it could. Slowly and gracefully the Heron took off and eventually was floating above the ground. She was amazed with her own accomplishment. Even more amazing was that it was a turtle that taught her to fly.
Downtown San Diego is blanketed in a gray mist. Unfortunately, the blanket is chilling me to the bone instead of warming me. As I sit on the balcony overlooking the other high-rise buildings of the city, I wonder if all cities are pretty much the same. Do the buildings look the same? Do the cities have the same aroma? Do the same background noises fill the air? I hear the squeaking brakes of a stopping bus, the wind pushing its way between the buildings, and the occasional siren drowning out all other sounds. The sounds of the city are so different from the sounds of my home in the suburbs, yet surprisingly, I can hear one familiar sound – the sound of tweeting birds. Even here amongst the towers of concrete and glass, the birds have found a place to build their nests, and a place to call home.
In the distance nestled between the buildings, the American flag is fluttering in the wind. Like the birds, the flag does not need special surroundings, just a place to live. Isn’t that what we all need? A place to live. A place to exist. A place to feel safe. A place to breathe in and out. A place with everything we need to get us to that next moment. It may be a moment of joy or sadness, but a moment nonetheless. We should be thankful for being alive, shouldn’t we? Thankful for being given this moment of existence and everything leading up to it. Just like the flag or the bird – it is just a place like any other, yet somehow a home.
Birds adapt to their surroundings, as do people. It doesn’t really matter where you live – just ‘that’ you live. At times in the city I find myself unable to sleep because of the number of sounds I am unaccustomed to hearing. Sometimes I like the sounds because it is comforting – I realize I am not alone. I look around and see an array of empty balconies in the adjacent building. There must be people somewhere? For the moment I am feeling alone even though I am surrounded by sleeping people. I am awake. Alive. Breathing. Living. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why am I here alone at 6:20 AM on a balcony observing the city while everyone else sleeps? Somehow I have found myself in a place called home.
Communication happens when people can express their feelings without fear. I can do it. Can you? If you can’t, why not? What is preventing you? Are other people really that scary? Sometimes I wish people could be more open to discussion. Even to argue. Instead, people often crawl inside a shell and hide like a turtle.
The safety inside the shell seems nice until you realize that you are alone. If you don’t come out, you will remain alone. This is your choice. I am out of my shell, and in fact, I think I lost my shell completely. Where did I put that anyway? It doesn’t matter because I don’t need it. I have transformed into a bird – my wings are open and I am soaring above the ground. Sometimes I wonder if armor, like a shell, is just to keep people out. Are we really just keeping ourselves in, thereby preventing life? What exactly are we protecting anyway?
Relationships don’t happen in a shell because they will soon die. Even a turtle needs nourishment of some kind. How are you staying alive if you are stuck inside your shell? Are you really happy in there? Is this what you want and need? Don’t you want to live, to love and just ‘be’ instead of withering away in a cramped up space literally inside yourself? Really, your shell of fear is the only thing standing between you and your happiness. What will it be? Do you want to be a turtle, or something else?