The Bluebird of Happiness
I took this gull's picture at a place in Maine called "Land's End." It's at the very end of Bailey Island, at Harpswell. My son and I were sitting on one of several jagged, upheaved rock formations that jutted into the Casco Bay like fingers, looking out across the endless rippling sea.
The bird took off after a few moments of posing and caught and quickly devoured a crab in the cold, clear shallows of a tidepool in front of us. A lobster boat chugged by. A cool breeze wafted across the water into our faces, bringing with it the smell of cold brine and the sound of the boat's motor churning through the water.
We were imaging a bright future while we sat on those rocks in a place that is like a foreign land compared to the landlocked urban sprawlville we call home. We were imagining what it might be like to spend more time in such a foreign land; he imagining moving away from home, I imagining not seeing him every day any more. Both of us were excited about possibilities and at the same time spoke of these ideas with trepidation. I wondered if he felt like the gull, about to take off; I wondered if, when he did, I'd feel like the crab.
Happiness comes with a price sometimes. The bluebird doesn't just show up on your windowsill and sing a lovely song and then all of life becomes instantly rosy and light as a feather. Moments like those do come, often unexpectedly, to gladden the heart and feed the soul. But true happiness is woven into a larger tapestry of loss and emptiness and connection and work and the quotidian and mundane and hopefulness and satisfaction.
I hope I shall see another gull soon.