Wednesday, October 13, 2010

What I learned from Greater Yellow Legs

One summer evening, while the sun was hanging low on the horizon, I sat off to myself, in the calm surf near a rock jetty. The gentle waves rippled over my legs, and I was content to watch children and families frolic in the Gulf waters off to my right. I was counting my blessings when I received another unexpected one. I spied a large shore bird aggressively pursuing its dinner, wading in and out of the shallows, making its way downstream towards where I sat near the rock formation. At first I thought it was a blue heron, but as it flitted closer, I realized how the Great Yellow Legs had gotten its name. This bird had nearly thirty-six inch long, bright, yellow stick legs. I almost chuckled out loud at its appearance and determination to catch its prey. That silly bird chased a small fish to within ten feet of where I sat holding my breath, watching in awe. It snatched a six inch nearly see-through fish. Yellow Legs flipped that fish on shore; the fish flopped back into the water. The bird snagged it with it's long bill and pitched it back to shore. The only problem was, the bird couldn't open its mouth wide enough to just swallow the fish. It would latch on, toss its head back to gulp, and the fish would flop back onto the sand. By the time Yellow Legs got another grip, the fish was back in the surf, and the bird would fish it back out. I nearly giggled at the antics. That bird was unaware of my presence, as I sat like a statue. After about ten minutes, Old Yellow Legs won and swallowed that little clear fish whole in one gulp. The problem wasn't catching it; the problem was trying to get it up into its long beak so it could then toss its head back and devour it.

I often return to that evening, and I wonder why it is that we humans also try to swallow everything whole, and gulp "IT" down in one big bite. The good and the bad. Are we greedy? Go Getters? Gluttons?

The Greater Yellow Legs devour their meals this way, but sometimes we human beings tend to stuff ourselves with problems that seem too big to swallow in one gulp. When we try to deal with the big picture, we can't see the details, and sometimes it's the little things we need to work on. We also tend to overindulge; we want it all, the bigger the better, and sooner isn't fast enough.

I would describe that clear fish (which was as big as my open palm) as SMALL but to Old Yellow Legs with its narrow beak, that fish was BIG.

Everything boils down to perception, doesn't it? Ever notice how looking through water can magnify an object? That fish must have looked like a whale to that shore bird.

What I learned from that bird: Don't magnify your problems and don't ever give up.


Donna Volkenannt said...

Hi Linda,
The Greater Yellow Legs are new to me.
I always learn something on your blog. Great words to live by--above or beneath the water.

Linda O'Connell said...

Hi Donna,
Thanks for stopping by. That funny looking bird sure left an impact on me.

Pat Wahler said...

You painted a vivid scene...along with a very apt observation!


Linda O'Connell said...

Thanks Pat,
I miss the oceana nd keep returning to this scene in my mind.

Chatty Crone said...

Very intersting - I had never heard of them - seems like they struggle to eat. I think we struggle too much in life too - sometimes we need to take it easier. To chose to take it easier.


Susan said...

Hey Linda....That was quite a story and a good analogy. Never heard of the bird with the yellow legs but I'm glad he finally got to eat his dinner. Susan P.S. Thank you so much for your sweet and kind words on my blog. I truly appreciated them (and you!) Susan

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

You have a wonderful knack for absorbing your environment and sharing your insights through wonderful writing. Excellent post.

I agree with your observation about perception. As a customer service manager I would tell my staff, "Perception is everything." It didn't matter if the customer was a nut job; what mattered was his/her perception of the situation. We had to respect that and understand that their perception = reality (to them).

Gotta admit...sometimes I feel like 'ol Yellow Legs!

Linda O'Connell said...

I hadn't heard of them either. Those bright yellow legs almost made me laugh. I had to research the Greater Yellow Legs. There's also the Lesser Yellow Legs, a smaller version.

Linda O'Connell said...

Thank you! That long-legged fellow sure made me think about life.

Linda O'Connell said...

Thanks for your kind words. You actually do have customer service in the south. Everyone is so polite. We were at a fast food restaurant recently and everyone ignored us, but they goofed around with each other. Let's just sya, that clown head CEO wouldn't have been happy with his employees.

Allison Schreiber Lee said...

You are so right- why is it that we want to gulp down everything at once? Maybe taking our time and slowly appreciating the blessed events in our lives will allow us to walk through the difficulties more fully, presently and gracefully.

Terri Tiffany said...

Amen!! I have had to work on that one--seeing that my problem could be a whole lot bigger than I think it is now.

Linda O'Connell said...

Your words of wisdom enhance my thoughts. Thank you for stopping by. I love your blog!

Linda O'Connell said...

Seldom are things as big as or as bad as we imagine, but still, it is human nature to worry and hurry.

Tammy said...

Have you ever felt that you were meant to read something?? I keep getting this same message lately! And what a great analogy. Enjoyed reading it, but I'll return to this scene in my mind, too, as I'm struggling with life's problems.