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Learning how to fly

Last Friday we were all working quietly in the office when a sudden muffled noise diverted our attention from the computer screens. It seemed to come from the disused fireplace. After exchanging a few puzzled looks, we cautiously got closer to check and discovered what I never would have thought of: a baby seagull.

This is how we met Jonathan.

The poor thing had just tumbled down the chimney and was obviously quite scared, all covered with dust and soot. Crouched in the middle of the fireplace, he didn’t move and had his left wing half-spread, but seemed to be ok. Trying my best not to scare him even further, I gently helped him closing his wing so that I could pick him up and put him outside on our terrace. Once there, I was hoping that he would pull himself together and fly back to his nest, up on the roof. Unfortunately, we soon realized this plan had a major obstacle: he yet doesn’t know how to fly.

Right there and then, I decided to name him Jonathan, after famous and unconventional seagull Jonathan Livingston.

Jonathan, the baby seagull – Dublin 2009

Jonathan has been with us ever since and seems to be doing ok considering that he can’t go back to his nest. Luckily, his parents spotted him on the terrace and are often coming down to feed him. I’ve been taking care of him as I could, leaving him some food and fresh water every day. I’ve also found myself studying his behaviour. It’s quite interesting to observe how he’s slowly adapting to the new place, and to witness all the effort and frustration he puts in trying to learn how to fly.

Observing Jonathan made me think how he’s not that different from any of us after all. Sometimes in life we might tumble down a chimney and find ourselves stuck on a terrace. Sooner or later, we have to decide whether to stay on the safe, known, maybe unexciting terrace waiting for something to happen, or rather lean out the edge, take a deep breath, spread our wings and jump towards the unknown.

Some people stay. Some people jump.
Either way is fine, as long as you don’t stay only because you are afraid to jump.

I like Jonathan. Even though he is incredibly noisy.
Yet every morning I walk to the office hoping that he won’t be there.

Disclosure & Update. This is a revised edition of a post I originally published on my personal blog back in June 2009, when I was living and working in Dublin, Ireland. Jonathan ended up staying with us for another week and kept practicing flight really hard, using the back of a wooden bench as take-off point. Then, one day, I came back from lunch break and he was gone. He had made it. And I felt proud, and happy, and sad, all at once. Now, every time I happen to feel stuck, I think of Jonathan and imagine how good that very first flight must have felt.

What do you think? Have you ever felt stuck? Would you stay or would you jump? I would love to hear your thoughts on this – feel free to share them using the comment form below.

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