What Do You Do When You’re A Bird With One Leg? Fly…
By Chris Palmer, M.A.
It seems so simple.
I know it’s not. But still, that headline wrote itself when I saw this amazing creature — this bird with one leg — flying and landing and flying again as if everything were exactly as it should be.
Clearly something was missing. All the other birds had two legs, allowing them to land and take flight with perfectly functioning balance and stability. Everything for them seemed like it must be easier somehow.
But our one-legged friend kept proving me wrong. His takeoffs, landings, and almost laser-like way of capturing French fries off the roof of my car — it was magic.
It was as if he had decided nothing could stop him.
Not even a missing leg.
My mind rushed to thoughts of what happened. Was this missing leg some sort of genetic thing? Did he get too close to a predator?
Then he would rush by again, as if to tell me none of that mattered. All that mattered was right now.
Like it didn’t matter what happened before. That’s done and gone and nobody can do anything to change it.
And right now there are fries to grab and circles to fly.
A religious friend of mine tells me there’s a story about the birds in the trees not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow. They get up each day with a kind of knowing that they will find what they need. So they go out with peace. They find food. And everything is ok.
And in a moment my son finds another French fry at the bottom of the bag. He throws it out, and another bird — this one with two legs — beats the others to the prize.
No one said it would be easy.
But it can be beautiful.
And there’s something about a bird with one leg who seems to get along just fine.
I wish I were so peaceful. So Zen.
But I worry about things. I don’t start the day like the birds in the trees.
So this magic bird — this heroic little fighter — challenges me and everything I think about survival. His sweeps and turns and incredible drive — all of it screams out to me.
It shakes me.
And sometimes I think we need that. Some thing or person or event that just wakes us up to the largeness of all of it.
If we can just trust and keep trying.
And quickly my son points him out. He’s flying almost out of our sight now, off to other conquests. How many things he must see in a day, a week, a life.
He just flies through all of it, passing his wisdom along in actions instead of words.
So what do we do when we feel defeated, like we can’t walk another step?
I know what he would say.
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