It was one of those weeks, you know the ones when nothing seems to be going right? Work wise, I had a couple of frustrating situations with financial ramifications then my car got a puncture so I had to buy two new tyres and to top it off maintenance work needed doing on my flat in London (kerching). So with a niggling mind, I was driving home from the garage when this happened. A huge bird of prey swooped down and flew alongside the car, it was so close, with the window open I could reach out and touch it. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. The bird with its huge wingspan dipped and then flew up in front of the car into the trees. It happened so fast but long enough for me to know it was special. Putting aside any plans, I pulled over and parked. Looking up to where the bird was perched I saw a way of climbing over some rocks to get a closer look, so that’s what I did, but I was careful not to get too close so as to scare or disturb him.
I came to know, after the event, that this was a Griffon Vulture probably a juvenile by the look of his down like feathers around his neck and the fact juveniles often go AWOL on their maiden flight migrating to Africa. If you are lucky you can see hundreds of them in the sky in the Western part of the Algarve around October, November time. For me that day, I only had eyes for one.
I sat looking at him, looking at me and watching him dosing in the winter sun as it peaked from behind a cloud, and as I sat there, amongst the greenery a sense of peace washed over me. I felt calm and somehow reassured that regardless of the challenges that come with working as a freelancer and living on a mountain it feels like the right place for me, nestled in beauty. As I mentally bid him farewell on his journey I felt sure he would find his way. He may be lost now but he is resilient and nature has a way of looking after itself. Life rarely takes you down a straight road, but usually, in the end, you get to where you need to be.
The Peace of Wild Things
by Wendell Berry
When despair for the world grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting with their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.
People find solace in nature and it is proven to be a healthy way to de-stress. It’s important to have a ‘go-to’ place either in your mind or physically to help you unwind. Maybe you have a poem or mantra, a choice of words that help when you are having a bad day? In the words of Billy Ocean, when the going gets tough, the tough get going and we all need somewhere to retreat, just like my Griffon vulture.