An Osprey and the Small-Minded Life – from an expert

Posted by Sooz on Monday, August 19, 2013 | 3 Comments

This week my husband, Mark, shares some reflections from his own life. He talks about his tendency to narrate life with cynicism or negativity. See if you recognize some of these thoughts…


An Osprey nest sits nearly 100 feet in the air on top of a stadium-style light pole.  We’ve named the baby Osprey “Dr. Oz.”  Big birds, huge nest, approximately 7 feet in diameter.  It’s so high that you lose perspective on the nest material.  These nests are not constructed from pine needles and twigs; they’re made from tree limbs and large branches.  There sits Dr. Oz and his doting parents on the highest point of the landscape.

Well, almost.

osprey6About a quarter mile away cranes from the shipyard dominate the skyline.  Strobe lights flash at night from the huge arms of these metal monsters to warn everyone of what is easily visible to even the weakest eye in daylight.  And while the flashes are imperceptible from inside our house, they slap every second and a half against the outside of our little white keep, revealing a radiance that’s like a movie screen. It doesn’t reflect off me, I just soak it into my skin and clothes. I wonder what the strobe will look like when more than just the side of our house is white in six months.  Will the light dance down Washington Street?  Will each flake dampen the light or create a kind of snow globe in this sweet neighborhood?

Tonight a rainstorm kicks up.  Thunder rumbles over the water and salt marsh resonating in a way I have never heard before.  Its voice is so much deeper, richer, more commanding.  Unchecked by the geography I left behind in the south, this throaty storm makes its presence known.  It physically moves me inside, rumbling the way I presume a lion’s roar sounds on the Serengeti compared to a movie intro.  It’s powerful, majestic, scary, a little unsettling, and humbling.  I wonder as the storm crashes quickly into us if the cranes at the shipyard will be struck by lightning, then it occurs to me – the Osprey nest!

Thankfully, no lightning strikes, nothing to keep Dr. Oz from fledging.  Which he does, I’m happy to report!  His awkward practice attempts in his nest begin with flapping – then jumping and flapping which, with his feathered legs, makes him look like he’s a bird in pajamas on a trampoline.   Finally he makes his way out of the nest waddling on to the horizontal light bars where he gathers his courage. A half hour later he catches a breeze and leans into it like an old man trying to catch his wife criticizing him from the other room.  A regal sight!

Instinctively Dr. Oz forces the air below and behind him like a pro!  He glides gracefully across the park – at least 150 yards on his first try!  Then the trouble starts. He comes to light on a dead birch branch.  Kinda missed it the first time, and the second. Third time gets ahold of it but he’s sorta upside down and you feel like you should look away and pretend to be talking to someone in case he looks at you.  It’s awkward, he’s hanging by one talon and one wing is sort of twisted over the lower branch.  He recovers.

I think it was 15 minutes of just catching his breath and wondering if it was worth it.  His mom and dad swing by to lie to him about how his first try was WAY better than theirs and how proud they are of him and he should totally keep going.  I gotta tell you – that’s BS, I was there, he looked ridiculous and everybody knew it!  It was embarrassing. But off he goes again, straight back home and cleanly settled, after a beak-plant into the far side of the nest. Clumsy kid.

Then I started thinking about how self-aware I am when I attempt anything.  Not in a good way. Did you notice how subtly I began to narrate that completely beautiful experience adding some shame, a little embarrassment, and a dose of humiliation?  We are talking about a gorgeous bird of prey leaving the nest for the first time, what is in me that made me put that angle on it?  Do I put a story of shame on my own natural efforts? Do I feed my fear of embarrassment with tasty morsels of disgrace?  I used to be a terrible mocker, and still fight that tendency more than occasionally.  People will let you get away with a lot if you can make them laugh. So, how often do I mask my own mortification with humor?  I bathe my own best efforts in this caustic acid, then make it funny to hide both my fear of embarrassment and the crime of undermining myself!  Who does that?  Well I do.

I bet you do it some too.  It is often so subtle and familiar that we don’t realize it. I wish we didn’t have to narrate our internal life that way.  I wish I could love myself enough to do my best without all this crap going on in my head.  I would be a much more authentic person.  Best of all, I would be much better able to love you properly too!  I want to love you well.  I want to love you with selfless abandon.

Introspection tires me emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically,and easily!

It’s late, it’s cloudy.  We might be in for some thunder later again tonight.  The shipyard will be fine, Dr. Oz will be fine.  Even though I feel about as useful as a priest at a bar-mitzvah right now, I think I’ll be ok.  I’m just so tired of living my life as if I’m narrating for a fool - I want the strobe light to bounce off me and dance through the streets of my life… and yours!

All the Best!

A "Good" Idea:
Do you narrate your life with negativity?


3 Responses

  1. WOW!

    Amazing piece!

    We are all with you to some degree, more so or less so, but there with you!

    I totally enjoy you ability w/ words! Powerful w/o hurting:)

    Thought provoking in their gentle power, they deliver a WHAM Punch.

    I do need to get to Maine so I can meet you and Susan

  2. Debbie says:

    Beautifully crafted, Mr. Shipsey. Beautifully crafted. How we “narrate our internal life” — begs painful consideration. How seldom we consider that “caustic acid” you mention. How seldom, as well, do we consider that each person we meet no doubt hides behind a facade, aching to be known.

    James, you certainly must get to Maine and bask in the Goodness that these folks impart.

    Mark, wrestle that keyboard from S more often. You are a splendid wordsmith. She must needs share the glory! :)

    Regards to Dr. Oz and his family. I’m rooting for that brood and yours!

  3. Mark Shipsey says:

    Kind words, thank you for the encouragement! I’m trying to imagine doing this every week for years… not happening! I’m more of a reservoir where Sooz is a well. So deep and reliable. Me? Shallow, but more expansive. I’ve learned that one is no better than the other but I sure cherish the well! Can’t wait to see what she draws up for all of us next week!!!

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