(in response to Writer’s Island prompt #7, The Gift. http://writersisland.wordpress.com)
Although I love to write, and do it everyday, it’s been difficult to come here of late. I do my journal, but that’s it, and some days even that is hard to accomplish.
I have been experiencing the natural depression that accompanies the grieving process. I define it as natural because it is to be expected when one loses a very pivotal individual from ones life. The lack of energy, loss of focus and interest, are normal as one attempts to get through it. It’s hard to pick up the pieces and just carry on. There’s a really huge sink hole in the place that that individual used to inhabit. And we feel it with all of our senses.
I’ve been trying to force myself to come here, but obviously, it wasn’t happening. Couldn’t focus in on what I wanted to write, let alone begin the actual process of putting words down on blank spaces. But the other day, I had an experience which I knew would be a good place to begin. Yet, I didn’t. I was very much just letting it slide away from me, until this morning.
I went to my email account and found a letter from Writer’s Island. Amazing. And a gift. I needed that extra little push to begin. I used to respond to the prompts there, and was very sad when they suddenly discontinued. But now they are back and just when I needed them. That is gift number one. The rest of this is about the Gift I wanted to share but was close to letting slip away.
It was a Pelican. Yes, the large bird with the big bill made for scooping up edibles from the sea, or any body of water. Pelicans are not regular inhabitants of this area. They are usually found much further south of here. So, while crossing the bridge between the west and east portions of my home city, looking up and seeing the large white bird with black markings on the tips of its wings, I didn’t quite understand what I was seeing.
I do so love synchronicity. As I spotted it, it banked itself to the side and I caught one clear image of its profile, long large beak and all, and although surprised, knew what I was seeing, but not quite believing it. Even mentioned it to the person I was meeting after the encounter. She was a bit skeptical, but also knows of my interest in wildlife of all kinds.
I came home and did some reading in all my books about animal lore and symbolism. But, before I get to that part, I realize that I should mention one of my first reactions. As I stated above, Pelicans use that long trough-like bill to scoop up fish and other delicacies from the water, for the nurture they need to survive. I have been aware that I was losing interest, focus, and energy, and although that alarmed me, I was too depressed to do much else other than acknowledge it and go on being depressed.
Water is the symbol of life, all of life, good, bad, depressed etc. I was making notes of my lack, but not doing much of anything to alter or change it. In other words, I wasn’t using it to nurture myself. If I was a Pelican, I was going through the motions of scooping up what was right there in front of me, but simply letting it slip right back out of my grasp. Not at all nurturing.
So, when I read about the Pelican and its symbolism, I did a lot more than just make a note of it. Pelicans are known for their buoyancy: they ride the water lightly like a schooner. They can dive beneath the surface, grab what they need and float right back up to the surface, almost popping up like a helium filled balloon on a string. They can dive into the deeper shadows of ‘life’, grasp what they need, and come back up to the surface with the nurture that will allow them to survive, to continue.
While I, on the other hand, seemed bound and determined to dive into those deeper complexities and allow them, and the weight they carried, to drag me even further beneath the surface. Not a good outcome. Certainly not the one I would desire and seek.
There is a second element to the symbolism of the Pelican. It is the ability to be unselfish: giving to others what it has, sharing itself and its treasures. By shutting down I wasn’t giving anything to anyone, was instead, simply withdrawing further and further into those deepening shadows. Actually getting lost in them.
After reading the symbolism, I decided to try something. I haven’t been coloring for several months. Reality didn’t allow me that simple pleasure. Had thought about doing it, but just as with the writing, it never got beyond the thought process. Called for far too much effort and energy. But that night, I got out my files, printed up a design and actually completed it. It wasn’t the best I have ever done. It was a bit dark and disturbing because of that, but definitely a reflection of the reality of my changed and altered circumstances.
All the while I was coloring, I kept seeing that image of the Pelican as it banked in front of me, gliding across my field of vision. That night, I also drove across town to pick up my daughter and bring her here for an overnight stay. Told her about the Pelican and what it meant. She was pretty skeptical as well. However, the following day, while taking her home via another bridge, I spotted the Pelican again. Pointed it out to her and she was as amazed as I had been the first time.
And I felt that I was being given a very specific gift by the Universe. A second chance to understand the message I had already been given, underlining it, so that I wouldn’t miss its importance. I am about the business of scooping up what I need to go on with my life. I have finished my third Mandala and am looking forward to another. I have written this blog instead of giving in to the feeling that its just too much to do in this moment. And I am sharing that message with anyone who cares to read here.
What good is a gift if it goes unwrapped and is never used? Have you seen any Pelicans lately?