I felt listless and unaccomplished when I woke this morning. Dominated by a vague sense of failure, I felt like I had not achieved my life goals, like I hadn’t even clearly defined them. I must have had dull dreams. I was struck, as I drank my first cup of coffee, by my ordinariness. No matter what came before this day, I was still an ordinary person in an ordinary house with an ordinary dog in an ordinary little city.
I felt disappointed. “Are these thoughts triggered by the feeling I woke with, or do I feel this way because my life is mundane and boring?” I wondered. I finished my plain black coffee and decided to take my ordinary dog for a walk through my ordinary neighborhood.
As the dog and I approached a pond, I saw three beautiful birds with only their feet and ankles in the water, waiting motionless for something to happen. “What a tedious life,” I thought, “Standing around all day, only part way into the pond, waiting for a meal to appear. Every day must be the same as every other day.” Right then, those birds represented every missed opportunity, every unremarkeable moment of my life.
My past rushed forward so quickly it took me by surprise. The scene before me combined with the warmth of the sunshine, the feel of soft wet grass underfoot, the songs of the Birds and the smell of warm earth to trigger Deja vu. I tried to process the feeling. I searched my memory to put this moment in perspective. My mind searched through thousands of similar sensory events.
I’ve experienced many sunny September mornings. The days flashed like a blurred side show of time snippets. An engagement broken in a park near a library, a funeral with military honors, a wedding, a car crash, a wrong turn into a beautiful garden, lost innocence.
That compression of experience came as I looked and felt and smelled and listened. I realized I have come a long way to get to this moment in this place. I have seen many beautiful things in many beautiful places.
“I’m not ordinary,” I thought, “I’ve lived a life that’s full and I’ve traveled every highway.” But there’s so much more to my life than that. “Much more than this,” I thought, looking at the pond and the birds. Sure, I let a few fish get away. Everyone has. That’s what these birds represented to me, missed opportunities. But missed opportunities are only a part of the picture.
Egrets, I’ve had a few. But then again, too few to mention. I did what I had to do. I paved my roads with good intention.