The Advice of a Seagull

To all my friends who are unbelievers – that is those who believe there is no God … to all who believe I was formed strictly and completely from molecules bumbling around and bumping into each other and other things out there that could be bumped into.

Seagull in flight by Jiyang Chen.jpg

Find a quiet spot where lots of us congregate … say the fantail of one of those gigantic cruise ships that seem so popular these days.

Relax … take a few deep breaths … and just watch us for a while.

Notice how I sit so calmly all bundled up with no sign of anything that could suddenly sprout out of my body and take me soaring to the currents of the wind above you … just a compact bundle of beautiful white stuff that for the time being at least, whose function is to just to keep me warm.

Notice how smooth I look … how I face into the blowing wind and how that white stuff just lays down so nicely around my body.  I happen to think … and others of your type … think I am a beautiful sight to lay eyes upon … what do you think.

Then I take flight. That soft white stuff all of a sudden but very gracefully, unfolds itself and I am lifted to soar on the winds … and you take a quick breath in amazement. You wish you could do the same, but alas that is reserved for the likes of those such as me.

Now watch my wings as they dip and catch the nuances of the sky. With hardly a motion I turn this way and that as I search for a morsel that will keep my hunger satisfied. My eyes are keen as they scan to and fro looking for that floating morsel.

Watch as another of my type joins me and we soar together … then another joins … then another … and then another … and another.

Watch as one of us thinks the very spot I occupy on the rail is the very one he needs … strange because there’s plenty of room to either side. But I acquiesce and fly off.

Watch my feathers … that white stuff … as they reach out to the wind.

Watch an individual feather as it reacts to the changing wind … I can’t see the wind, but each of my feathers knows how to use the currents. Notice the subtleties of that single feather as it reaches out to the air and to the wind, while at the same time reacting to the changes it senses. It seems that even that one feather knows the direction I desire and helps to guide me there.

Now watch a different feather, perhaps that one close to my body and try to see how it contributes to my flight.

Now watch yet another feather … yes, that one close to my elbow in the inside of the wing – see if you can catch how it helps me soar or float gently right above your head.

Watch as my wings show an overlapping pattern of feather types … different types that optimize the flow of the winds passing across them; long feathers, strong yet slender, and contoured to direct the flow of the wind to a particular purpose. A succession of smaller feathers that soften the turbulence generated by the powerful strokes generated by my muscles as I fly into the wind seeking a higher vantage point.

Watch my tail … watch how it twitches and flutters and gives me stability as I soar and then dive to the water’s surface and collapse to a compact waterproof bundle afloat on the sea.

As I soar high above the sea I notice a flight of my cousin birds … the pelicans, unpack themselves from a frame that seems to me impossible to fly … and yet they do. As I watch their graceful flight skimming the top of the sea I ponder (that is of course if I were able to ponder … which I of course cannot do) but nevertheless I ponder as I watch their majestic formation of flight. I ponder as I watch them take a steep climb, circle around and then plunge into the sea to grasp a beak full of fish … then settle down as I do into a compact waterproof bundle of feathers onto the rolling sea.

Don Johnson – November 2014


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