Twice this week we have been gifted with the arrival of a magnificent great blue heron on the shore of this small lake.
We watched him walk through the fog on long legs, we saw him swiftly spear for fish, we watched him fly away on huge wings, flashing blue, a regal spirit-bird disappearing across the lake into the mist.
We were in awe, seeing the soul of this beautiful bird that came to our shore, a visit from a winged messenger.
I know now the art of connecting the appearance of a bird or animal with an issue I have been wrestling with. On my mind these days has been a reworking of the expression of my authentic self, of letting go of aspects of myself that just aren’t true for me anymore – those things I do not want to take with me into the future.
So as I gazed at the heron I found myself remembering this: in past careers, I have been lucky to have had a boss or director who saw potential in me and wanted to develop it. On at least three occasions I had a boss who wanted to groom me for promotion, who beat the drum for me, gave me opportunities, planned my upward trajectory with me.
And while this is something I was and still am very grateful for, when I look back, I see a revealing pattern. In each case, the person with the pom-poms was removed from the picture before the vision for my career leap had taken form. In one case it became clear, after many years, that the person whose job I was being groomed for was just never going to leave that job, one director was let go due to corporate “restructuring” and another left for work in another city to be closer to family.
And in their absence I was left to wrestle with the fact that I didn’t really want for myself the dream they had for me. I didn’t doubt my ability to accomplish it, I just didn’t really want it. I didn’t hunger for it. Without their enthusiasm behind me the dream just fizzled out.
And I think that’s why, each time, my mentor/promoter/boss was removed from the picture…to help me stand on my own and figure out where my true path lay.
To show me that I had to bring my own pom-poms and that to do the work required it had to be for something I was truly excited about, something I wanted to reach for.
Which brings me back to the heron. It’s keynote message for me is about self-determination and self-reliance.
“Heron reflects a need for those with this totem to follow their own innate wisdom and path of self-determination. Follow what is best for you, rather than the promptings of others.” Ted Andrews.
I can see now that I am not traditional in my life roles. I don’t want to be.
I want to stand in my uniqueness, with joy and power, dignity and grace, and follow my own path, unapologetically.
Even aggressively if needed. The editing voice in my head says that the word “assertive” would be better received here, but the way the heron catches his fish is aggressive poetry in motion.
Because the heron, when he aims for a fish, is not messing around. He is spearing with precision and speed, grasping the opportunity presenting itself, while strongly standing in the water. He is not apologizing for who he is, he is simply his magnificent self.
He stands on his own.
This is his message to me about self-reliance, his medicine so gracefully given.
From out of the mist I hear him, on blue wings he tells me: stop apologizing for who you are, stop explaining, stop holding back. The way you want to live is not for everyone. Shed the burden of others ideas of who and what you are or could be – for this muddies the waters. To do this work you will have to stand on your own, root yourself into the earth and balance in the currents of life to recognize and seize the opportunities that are truly yours.
An opportunity he immediately taught me to grab is to share the healing medicine of the natural world with my daughters. My youngest is as transfixed with animals and birds as I am, she has a natural way with them, and may she always treasure this gift.
And so I take this opportunity to be my authentic self, to stand strong in the swift flowing waters of life with the ease and confidence of a heron, that my daughters may hear their own inner wisdom coming forth and know how to answer it. To help them unravel the medicine and mysteries of all the plants, trees, insects, animals and birds of this sweet earth. While they are still receptive, before the noise of the world closes in.
My deepest gratitude to the great blue heron who has shared his powerful medicine with me, and sends me forward with more strength and determination and greater clarity than before.
Truly your sweet arrival through the mist was a gift.