September 22, 2023

Seeing Clearly

Late yesterday afternoon, my wife and I took our teenage daughter to practice, nearly an hour's drive from our house.  Shortly after leaving home, we found ourselves behind a school bus that stopped every few blocks to discharge students.  I found myself regretting out loud that we hadn't left even a few minutes early to avoid the delay.  When the bus finally turned and we were able to proceed on our trip, we descended down a long hill and into a narrow canyon through a heavily wooded forest.  The road winds along a river that is lined with tall trees.

No sooner had we reached the river and began the mile-long traverse along its banks, than my daughter squealed with excitement. "Look!" she exclaimed, "An eagle! A bald eagle!" My wife glanced out and said, "Wow! It's so close to us."  

We don't see eagles very often. In fact I've probably only seen a handful in the wild, though not without trying.  With my hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, I said I was sorry I missed it.  "No," my daughter responded, "It's still there!"  

So I glanced quickly to see the huge, graceful bird flying along with us (at 35 MPH) just 20 feet or so above the river.  It looked exactly like this photo (below) someone posted online.  It was beautiful.

My passengers enjoyed the show for another minute before the canyon road ends. At that point, the massive bird soared across our path and disappeared into the treetops. We continued on our trip.  Our in-car conversation about the natural drama we'd seen continued for another few minutes before it dawned on us that, had we not been "stuck behind the school bus," we would have missed that unique interaction with a legendary bird.  It turns out the bus experience we had regretted even as it happened was the prelude to an opportunity we'd otherwise not have had.

I recalled reading the memoir by late Dr. Wayne Dyer titled "I Can See Clearly Now."  The theme of his book is that all the things we experience in life--even (especially?) the negative ones--happen for a reason.  It sounds trite, but he shared examples of his experiences that, in the moment, seemed like setbacks and disappointments.  And yet, looking back, he saw clearly how they contributed to much of the good in his life.  In the book, he says:

"I wasn’t aware of all of the future implications that these early experiences were to offer me. Now, from a position of being able to see much more clearly, I know that every single encounter, every challenge, and every situation are all spectacular threads in the tapestry that represents and defines my life, and I am deeply grateful for all of it."

It's hard to live without regret.  It takes faith to accept things as the come at us daily.  But it's worth it, as you never know if there's a soaring eagle waiting for you around the corner.


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