"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Thursday, June 16, 2005
Back in 1987, things were finally looking up. Having just endured the death of my mother and a contentious divorce from my first wife, I finally hit a run of good luck. I had a job I enjoyed, a comfortable living environment, a gig playing bass in a band I liked, and a new girlfriend whom I adored. Then, in rapid succession, my boss got transferred and was replaced by a likeable but incompetent boob, my best friend/landlord announced that he was selling the house and I would have to find another place, the band broke up, and my girlfriend got a promotion that required her moving to LA. She suggested that I join her there, but that seemed like a mighty big step considering that we had only known each other a very short time. I told her I would join her in California in a month or two, but secretly I had my doubts.
Then one evening I was sitting on a park bench on the northern bank of the Montlake Cut, contemplating my future, when a great blue heron landed nearby. Now, I had always been fascinated by great blue herons - but I had never actually seen one. I grew up in North Idaho, where they are supposedly quite common, but I never met one face-to-face. But suddenly, here I was just 15 or 20 feet away from one. I watched it for several minutes, until a University of Washington fisheries student came along and shooed it away (I should mention that it was feasting on salmon fingerlings in one of the fishery school's hatchery ponds at the time).
I'm not the sort of guy who puts much stock in things like "signs," but I took that bird's appearance as a sign that, now that this lifelong goal had been achieved, I could leave my native Northwest and follow a different path for a while. I moved to LA in May, 1987.
Fast forward to the present: Much has happened in the years between then and now, a lot of it quite good. That girlfriend I followed to Hollywood is now my Lovely Bride. Together we have a son who is happy, healthy, and a source of constant joy. I started law school in 1993 and earned my degree three years later, and now I'm duly licensed to practice law in any Washington state court, the federal courts for the Western District of Washington, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. And, as they say, I have my health (aside from moderately elevated cholesterol, a bit of a beer gut, and a slight smoker's cough - I swear I'll quit again, one of these days).
One would think that I would be satisfied, but I'm not. Not even close. Despite my best efforts, I was never able to land a regular job after law school, so I opened my own solo practice. But I'm no entrepreneur, so the practice has foundered pretty much from its inception. I'm not making any money - a fact which increasingly causes my Lovely Bride considerable, and perfectly reasonable, frustration - and I can't remember what it feels like to be excited or passionate about my career or my future. I have no direction.
So - guess who showed up again?
(Image stolen from this fine site, which deserves better than the treatment it's getting from me here.)
I don't know if you've ever seen a great blue heron in flight, but it is truly something to behold. This bird stands nearly 4 feet tall, and has a wingspan of 6 feet or so. It is the very picture of grace and stunning natural beauty.
And it's following me.
Almost every morning for the last couple of weeks, a great blue heron has flown low overhead while I'm out walking the dog. It showed up twice this morning - once when I took the dog out to pee upon first waking up, and again a half hour later when I took her for her proper walk. Like I said, I'm not inclined to believe in superstitious poppycock like "signs," but this damned bird is haunting me!
So, I put the question to you: What is this great blue heron trying to tell me? That I should get my teaching certificate and get a job down at the local high school? Lock myself away in a garret and finish the novel I've been working on since last winter (I already have almost six whole pages nearly done)? Fake my own death, assume a new identity, and move to Hilo? Take out a second mortgage and open a tavern with a bitchin' jukebox? Or just stop whining, scrape up some
Or is it just trying to tell me that I should look where I'm going, instead of watching the sky while I'm walking?