On Saturday morning I woke up just after seven. I took a cup of coffee into my study and read while the cats climbed around on my desk and inspected everything they thought interesting. By nine I was restless and I drove to Isle of Palms—top down on a brilliant morning. A quick stop for another coffee and then I strolled along the water’s edge. The ocean was in a morning calm and the people scattered along the beach, also walking, seemed calm too.
A particular problem rolled around in my mind. What to do? I strolled and mulled—if I do this, then that might happen, etc. My eyes took in the sand just in front of me: bird tracks, broken shells, lines made by waves come and gone. A seagull caught my attention. He stood still and faced the ocean. I looked around and saw more, dozens more, and more still. There were perhaps one hundred gulls. They stood on stick legs facing the water toward the northeast. They seemed to gaze at the morning sun, the sun at an angle in the perfect sky. All of them, along the beach, gazed with heads raised. The attitude of their pear-shaped bodies synchronized.
I stopped and stood with the gulls. For several minutes I stood as still as they did and faced the morning sun. The warmth ran over me. Light particles played on the water in a broad way from the shore to the horizon. The gulls and I stood and gazed.
Two children bolted into view from the left. Their intent was to make the gulls fly, to drive them away. The children, a boy and a girl, laughed and jumped and yelled and the gulls around me shot up and away. Is it possible to feel offended for another? I felt offended for the gulls; then for myself.
We do what these children did sometimes, don’t we? We pound through a peaceful setting where all is at rest simply for our own amusement. We disrupt things for entertainment. Don’t we?
The children moved on and I stayed in place. Then the gulls returned. A few at time, they came back. They hovered and landed on their spindly legs and positioned themselves to face the Northeast. We all settled down and gazed again into the light.
The gulls were not angry toward the children. They did not file a complaint or stand around and cry over the unjust disruption. Their day was not ruined.
When the disruption came, they rose up and waited and then landed again, and stood facing the light of the sun on a brilliant morning. They simply returned to gaze at the light.
I like that. I may try that myself.