Saturday, July 16, 2016

Lessons from the Galapagos

A Galapagos Gull
Copyright of
The speed boat pounded against the choppy waters of the Galapagos. One hour and a half into the ride, I saw a Galapagos gull hovering over the water. It meant we were closer to land. Think about how Noah felt to see the dove, while the earth was flooded. In general, when you're out at sea, you know you're near land when you see the birds because you'll meet them, before you hit land.

I was heading back to another island to catch my departing flight, and in doing so, I could feel my time running out on my holidays. It feels as if you're trying to catch water, which only slips between your fingers. There was no stopping the loss; the time was going to end, and there was nothing I could do to stop it (no matter how much I wished I could).

Why is it, when you finally find what you like doing, the time just has to speed up on you? But when you're miserable or suffering, the time just slows down on you? That's a mystery I think I'll be pondering for awhile.

I watched that gull for a good 20 minutes, and it was like watching a television show. My eyes were glued onto that gull. Was it because it was beautiful? No, it was a plain bird; it wasn't like the flamingos or boobies. Nor was it as stunning to behold as the sharks or massive sea turtles. But it was graceful and agile.

It would swirl and loop in the air, like the most skilled acrobat. And it did it so effortlessly.

I watched that gull's mechanics of flight. It pulsed it's wings twice, then it glided near the surface of the shimmering and sparkling sapphire ocean. Always two pulses, then a glide, as a swimmer does her strokes, then also glides and repeats. I saw it pick up more lift and power from the surface of the water, probably because of the evaporation and energy that hovered right above it.

I never watched a bird's flight so intently. But I remember reading notes from the Wright Brother's diary, and they spent a lot of time watching South Carolina seabirds, in order to understand the physics of flight. On that boat, I wondered if I saw what they saw over a century ago.

I was convinced that there was more energy in the air, a lift or a thrust, right above the air's surface than there was higher up in the air. I could clearly see the bird take advantage of it, and shoot up when it wanted to, without pulsing it's wings. It was as if a visible liquid was right underneath the wings, to hold in such a gliding position. To see the invisible secrets of flight, in that silent moment, filled me with an appreciation for such natural wonder - flight. (Man has only been able to fly for about 100 years, while birds have been doing it for millions of years.)

It was then, I also realized that there are certain insights that cannot be learned in school. I realized that there are certain conversations that cannot be had at home. I realized that certain mysteries and conversations could only be had in the realm of other worlds, and some of those worlds, like the Galapagos, can be so far, far, away.

There are many more lessons and people I met on this trip. But, those have to be saved for another time.

I felt conflicted. I wanted to stay longer on the island, but did I really? I wanted to hold onto the enjoyment of having no worries, but did I want to let go of my responsibilities too? But like all my journeys across the sea, soon, my time on the Galapagos will be just another memory.

No comments:

Post a Comment