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The Seagull Who Taught Me About Letting Go

September 4, 2014

The beach is my favourite place on earth. There is something about being near the water that makes me feel alive and inspires me to be at my best. This past summer, my family rented a cottage from a good friend of mine. Ah, seven days of relaxation, I could hardly wait. But, I believe there was a deeper lesson for me at this cottage beyond just the benefit of relaxation.

One day at the cottage, it poured rain. When it stopped, my three-year old daughter and I went for a walk on the beach. I watched her jump in the puddles and pick seashells. Then she stopped abruptly and a sad look crossed her face. She pointed to a seagull sitting on the shoreline. We walked closer and I could tell this seagull was in a lot of pain. The bird looked at us mournfully and continued to cock its head up and open its beak as if to make a noise, but nothing came out.

Now, I know seagulls have a reputation of being pests, but there was something so mournful about this bird that it seemed to transcend the fact that I was a human and she was a bird. I felt for this bird. I hate to see any living being in pain.

My daughter asked me what we should do. I had been thinking that same thing myself. We sat down at a bench nearby to keep an eye on the seagull and also so I could think about what do to here. I wanted to help the bird and also set a good example for my daughter. When I see somebody in pain, my first thought is to approach them. But, I didn’t think this bird would appreciate if I went right up to it. That would likely give it a heart attack, and what would I have done to help once I approached anyway. Then, I thought about calling the humane society. My daughter suggested we throw ice on it, as she likes when I put ice on her sore areas when she falls. But, I didn’t think this bird looked like it was up for an ALS ice bucket challenge at this moment.

Just then, two ladies walked by. My daughter wanted me to tell them about the bird. So, I did. They looked at it and said, “it is old and needs to have a long sleep” and they continued walking. As they said that, I felt this overwhelming feeling that was exactly what needed to happen, I needed to let this bird go. There wasn’t anything I could do to save it or fix it or control the situation, I needed to be able to walk away.

I felt this strong feeling wash over me that told me I was meant to see that bird. I was meant to be faced with the challenge of my first inclination to ‘fix’ the bird and realize that I couldn’t do it. This seagull was going to die and that would be okay.

I saw this lesson applying to many areas of my life. I know that when I am faced with a problem, I want to fix it. But sometimes we can’t fix everything. Where in your life are you spending precious energy trying to fix something when you know deep down inside it’s not worth the effort and it probably won’t work out anyway?

What can you let go of that will help give you back some energy to apply to the projects or people where you can make a greater impact? This article isn’t about giving up on something because it is challenging. I am a strong believer in working your hardest to bring what you are passionate about to fruition. What I am talking about here is different. It is about listening to your gut instinct and letting go of things that aren’t your battles to win.

We headed back to the cottage for dinner and my youngest daughter was anxious to tell her Dad and big sister about our adventure. Of course, immediately after dinner the girls wanted to go down to the beach to see the seagull. They ran ahead of me. I watched them running and playing along the way, as the clouds parted way to an amazing sunset. It was only moments later, they returned running and crying. “The seagull is dead!”

They wanted to show me its body. I told them the bird has gone up to Heaven. My five-year old started to say a pray for this bird’s soul and my other daughter started to sing. They have never been to a funeral before, but they instinctively seemed to know what to do. Then we said good bye to the bird and my oldest daughter turned back to the bird before we left and said, “Have a good first night in Heaven.”

We continued to walk along the beach, running races along the way and laughing. In many ways, it seemed like a perfect night. I had been made a better person because of that seagull’s last precious moments.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Gary & Marilyn Greenham permalink
    September 9, 2014 10:49 am

    This is beautiful and brought tears to my eyes – good message – I’m proud of you

  2. Melinda permalink
    September 9, 2014 8:50 pm

    Beautiful article and very true to many aspects of our lives. Thank you for sharing my dear friend!

  3. Steph J permalink
    September 22, 2014 1:46 pm

    Thanks for sharing that Carey-Ann. Just wanted to let you know that because of you and the work we did together, we ate realising our dream, on our trip around the world!! 2.5 months and 7 countries in….I couldn’t have done it without your guidance a few years ago. It just proves that if you set your !Ind to your dreams, you can do it!!! Hugs. Steph J.

    • September 22, 2014 1:53 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to comment while travelling around the world! I am glad the coaching you received from me helped you bring this dream to fruition. You are strong and amazing. You are making your dreams a reality. And that serves as a powerful role model for others. Congrats!

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