A Swan Named George

Once upon a time, on a sunny, sandy river bar, there lived a wooden wonder. This wooden wonder’s name was George. You may wonder how he came by that name. Sometimes he wondered, too, but as far back as he could remember, he’d always been known as George. And as far back as he could remember, he had always lived on that sunny, sandy river bar.

Missouri Headwaters, Three Forks, Buffalo Jump 022

Missouri Headwaters, Three Forks, Montana, 2016

Now true, it wasn’t always sunny and sandy. In fact, sometimes it was quite the opposite. Sometimes it was dark and cold. Sometimes it was wet and muddy. And sometimes, especially in the spring and fall when northern neighbors would make their way to southern shores, it would get downright crowded. But sooner or later the tide would turn, the clouds would pass, the migrants move on, and there George would be left, once more he and his sandbar.

Every year when his winged friends would go through, especially the gorgeous, graceful white swans, George would get all excited. You see, he just knew that some year when they took off, he’d be flying alongside them. He knew he was meant to fly, just as sure as he knew the sun was sunny and the sand was, well, sandy. Not to mention sure to add a nice layer of fiber to whatever he happened upon for lunching. George had often heard that fiber was good for you, so he was OK with that.

Swans in flight - www.michigan.gov-images-dnr-tundra_swans_migrating_410274_7

Swan Migration (Source: Michigan DNR)

He was, however, not so good with being left behind on that sandbar every year. Sometimes it was OK, and but other times it was decidedly not. And sometimes, he felt himself turning a less than flattering shade of green as the winged and webbed ones moved through. George did have his heart set on flying. After all, he was a swan. He knew that, beyond a shadow of a doubt. He knew he was meant to fly. And he practiced a lot. But no matter how much he practiced, it never seemed to help, so George had set himself to discovering why.

He thought he had narrowed the problem down to one thing. Wings. Or more particularly, feathers. George did have wings, but they were wooden, like the rest of him. And as near as he could tell, those light as air feathers seemed to be a fairly important piece of equipment.

And so he struggled and strove, doing the best he knew how to transmute his wooden webs into gold-tipped gliders of gossamer, like the ones he saw on friends flying by.  But the more he struggled, the deeper he stuck, the heavier he weighed, and the more he got bogged down in the mud all around him, wedging himself even more deeply into the sandbar he called home.

What George didn’t realize, what he simply couldn’t know in the impetuosity of his youth, was that he was right. He *was* a swan. He just didn’t understand what type of a swan he was, what a special, unique creation, and just what was the stuff he was made of.

You see, George was a beautifully hand-crafted piece of driftwood, carved with great care and love into the most stunning of wooden swans, long neck stretched out, curving so gracefully. As this precious, one-of-a-kind creature, George was never meant to have the light-tipped wings his neighbors grew. George had his own kind of wings, inherent to the element from which he had been shaped by Nature’s walnut-stained fingers.

In short, George was a wooden swan, shaped from that most buoyant of elements. He didn’t need to struggle to grow his own wings, his own feathers. His wings were already a natural part of who and what he was. Only George’s wings were of a little more earthy type, the kind that would keep him safely and intentionally grounded, like dirty fingernails on a marble statue.

Missouri Headwaters, Three Forks, Buffalo Jump 032 - cropped

View from a Sandbar, Missouri Headwaters, Three Forks, Montana, 2016

In order to fly, all George needed to do was to let go, to quit trying to be something he wasn’t, and to accept who he was, to relax into his own natural way of being. When he did so, he could let go of the mud, and he would rise to the water’s surface, floating to the top, and the winds and flooded waves of time along the river would lift him in their natural flow and carry him to the places that had called from long ago.

But as long as he stayed there and kept fighting who he was, kept trying to be something he was not, trying to be a flesh-and-blood swan instead of accepting that he was wooden, with his own special gifts, well, as long as he kept fighting that, he would never learn the truth of what he could accomplish, and the joy that would flow through the knots and veins of his being, when he simply accepted who he was.

Someday, George would learn this. When the time was right. When his hand and heart was steady. There was no way around it. It couldn’t be rushed, and it couldn’t be avoided – it was a natural part of his path. Someday, he would see. Someday, if he ever stopped struggling long enough, stopped blaming himself and everyone and everything else for what he could not do, George would learn the miracle of being exactly what he was.

And that, the North Wind whispered as it blew down the river, past the sandbar, past George, carrying the newly departing waves of winged ones, would be a beautiful day. And how the river would sing with joy, how the sun would shine with delight, to see this wandering boy discover that he was already home, and had been all along. And then, to lay his wings upon the water, to let himself fly, as none before, and none ever after, in a flight plan that was George’s very own.

And so it was, and so it is, and so it shall be, friends. Wood to water, takes natural form, and all begins again.

George - Missouri River, May 6 2017

Sunny days on George’s sandbar along the Mighty Missouri, 2017

(C) 2017 Mary Batson, FrontPorchRambles.com
All rights reserved, especially the one to float to the surface.


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