I had a toothache yesterday so I had to go to the dentist in the late afternoon. I wanted to hear a friend of mine speak so I left a little early so I could get through the pass without dropping the call. My plan was to go to the beach and walk while listening to her share. However, when I got to the beach, it was high tide and there wasn’t much beach to walk...
So I decided to do something wholly unnatural for me, I decided to sit and just look out over the ocean. And I have to say, it was a marvelous experience.
As I sat and listened to my friend share her life and how she is living it currently, I sat upon a bench on a bluff on the most perfect November day (well at least in Southern California). It was like 85 on the coast, sunny, warm. The sky was a brilliant blue only to be rivaled by the azure sea below. Everything felt like it was in technicolor...the air was warm and dry and was one of those days when the air just felt good on your skin. Almost as if the air was kissing you...
I felt so present sitting there. Listening and observing my surroundings. As I peered down at the ocean I saw an abundance of pelicans. They were everywhere. Now, this might be common in some locals, but here we see them flying over more often than we see them in the water. And there were hundreds of them.
At first they just floated on the water, in some sort of pelican convention that I could not ever possibly understand. But then they began to take flight, in pairs of twos and threes, they would circle round, then back again, and just like that they began to bomb the water. Their wings outstretched, sailing high above the water, and with the simple maneuver of closing their wings momentarily, began their descent. Their agile frames torpedoing towards the ocean, entering beak first and ending with a splash.
I was too far away to see which bird actually caught something but I soon learned that there were other birds who waited at the water’s surface to gobble up any missed attempts.
I sat there for over an hour. Just watching these odd looking birds do their thing.
Over and over again.
I found myself very grateful that my manner of feeding did not require me to sail to great heights and then plummet into the water with my mouth open hoping that I could swallow copious amounts of water and also, maybe, a fish or two.
I became very grateful that I am able to ingest nutrients in a completely different manner.
I sat there in the fading Fall sun, watching these majestic animals work their magic, over and over again. And I realized though I had seen this whole pelican thing before, I had never really seen this pelican thing before. Or if I had, it had been so long that I forgot it.
It was just a moment, a tiny slice of life being lived. But I was present for it. I saw it. I watched it. I participated in it. And I was changed by it. I can’t even tell you in what way I was altered, I can only admit that I was. Something happened to me standing there on that bluff. Something changed me, took my insides and rearranged them.
Sometimes it is trauma, sometimes it is grief, sometimes it is heartbreak, but yesterday it was pelicans. I was altered from the inside out simply by being present for the feeding frenzy of pelicans. I hope someday you might be too.