In Search of Better Stories

Sometimes You Just Need to Quit

“If at first, you don’t succeed, try try again” is sometimes terrible advice. This morning I watched a seagull try in vain for over an hour to catch a fish. Schools of these fast swimming little creatures have invaded False Creek this week. From my vantage point on the bench, I can see vast numbers of them ripping around the bay just beneath the water’s surface. All in tightly packed formations, these silver streaks of lighting can even launch themselves out of the water like jet-propelled synchronized swimmers. I feel like the BBC’s Planet Earth needs to come and film these little torpedo’s in slow motion, so we all can appreciate their athletic ability a little more. The poor seagull was infatuated with these tender slivers of breakfast. So he paddled around as best he could, giving chase with only his webbed feet’ propulsion. He looked like a drunk driver careening all over a road as he gave chase. He would cut to the left, then back to the right, his semi circles and figure eights rippled the water in all directions. When my winged friend felt like he was close enough to strike, he would slam his head into the water, but every time he came up empty. The fish would jump out of the water or dive down deeper, always just out of reach. The seagull wouldn’t give up, I started to feel sorry for him. His web propulsion system began to tire, making his hunting efforts even more pathetic.

Why don’t you just grab a crab, I thought to myself. This is the edge of East Van, for crying out loud, there are piles of garbage, and the remnants of half-eaten meals everywhere! Use your wings, you dumb bird, and you’ll find a bountiful harvest in no time at all!

But the bird wasn’t listening to my thoughts; instead, he was harnessing his inner Osprey; he stopped paddling and began skimming across the water, picking up speed. Splash! Into the water headfirst, he went. Nope, nothing, the seagull came up empty beaked.

Sometimes we humans are just like that seagull, we get it into our heads that we are supposed to do something or be somebody, and so we set off with full determination to accomplish our goals, but the truth is, we were never really designed to be that person or achieve that goal, and so we try and fail, and try and fail until that becomes the depressing cycle of our life.

The seagull needed to realize that he is neither a seal nor a seahawk. He is a scavenger. His talents lie in other areas. He can rip apart garbage bags in seconds, effortlessly steal food from crows, and spot free meals from miles away. We all have different abilities and gifts. We need to figure out what those are and then implement them into the rhythms of our life. Discover what you are good at and do that, even if it’s not the coolest thing in the world. When a seagull attempts to be a seahawk, only the fish win. When you try to be someone you are not, nobody wins. Live in your gifting. It might be time for you to quit something.

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