Posts Tagged ‘Without Wings’

Without Wings

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on February 20, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Gray clouds blanketed the morning sky as I set out on my daily walk today.  The chill in the air, the overcast sky and the lack of a good night’s sleep made the beginning of the walk feel like an arduous task.  But as I started to get warmed up, my appreciation for the solitude of the desolate streets transcended my desire to go back home and crawl into bed.

Most weekdays, I walk towards the end of the day as the sun is beginning to set, causing me to race against the darkness.  While the weekday walks are still enjoyable, they are not nearly as relaxing as my weekend excursions which have no competition from the setting sun.  And though I walked the same path this morning, my experience was anything but typical.

During the sunset walks, I do my best to lose myself in music while taking time to gather my thoughts.  However, there is very little solitude at that time, as common courtesy dictates an obligatory nod of the head or an acknowledging smile to fellow walkers, joggers and other passersby.  There is a palpable feeling of haste in the weekday air that simply does not exist early on a weekend morning, rendering the two experiences virtually incomparable.

The water raining down from the fountain in the pond broke the silence of the morning as I rounded the bend in the path.  As always, the ducks were gliding around the pond in pairs or small groups.  And though the ducks keep a wary eye on people walking by if they are resting on the grassy shoreline, they don’t openly display any sense of alarm being in close proximity to humans.  The same cannot be said for the swans that I saw by the pond for the first time this morning.

While the ducks had very little reaction to me as I walked along the path, the swans took off in majestic flight as they felt my presence (unmenacing as it was).  In a matter of seconds they soared across the pond to seek refuge on the other side.  I marveled at the ease that it took for the swans to get to where they wanted to be, momentarily envious that we as humans are not afforded the same luxury.  I thought about how we all must work tirelessly to get to where we want to be in life, while swans can seemingly get to where they want to be with great ease.

Several minutes later, as I walked along the path to the other side of the pond, I caught up to the swans.  Without hesitation, they took off once again in majestic flight, fleeing what they most certainly surmised to be imminent danger.   The irony of the moment struck me.  Although the swans have the innate ability to mightily soar to their destination, their destination is determined by their instinct to survive rather than their desire to thrive.  Human beings, on the other hand, must toil to reach our destination, but the joy of arriving at our destination goes far beyond mere survival.

The instant gratification mindset momentarily had me envious of the ability of the swans.  But when the fleeting moment passed, I remembered one of my favorite Ralph Waldo Emerson quotes…“Life is a journey, not a destination.” Life isn’t always easy, but at least it is about more than just surviving (which is a lot more than I can say for swans and other members of the animal kingdom).

Although I had already come to the realization that there is something to be said for living “without wings,” I enjoyed a not-so-subtle reminder as I watched the swans take flight.  In true cinematic fashion, the swans soared away as the song “Anyway You Want It” by Journey pulsated through my headphones.

The synergy of this serendipitous moment brought a smile to my face.  Aside from thinking that life is a “journey” and that we have the ability to make our lives “anyway we want it,” hearing the song brought me back to my wedding day.  As my wife and I walked back down the aisle towards the catering hall where our reception was being held, “Anyway You Want It” was playing in the background.  To this day, one of my favorite memories of our wedding day is walking down the aisle for the first time as husband and wife, with Journey playing in the background as I kissed my wife’s hand.  Thankfully, the moment was captured on film.

Since that day, our journey has taken many twists and turns, and has never been as effortless as the flight of the swans.  However, I would imagine that if the swans had the choice between a challenging journey towards happiness, or a seemingly effortless ability to soar for mere survival, they too would choose a life “without wings.”

%d bloggers like this: