I would like to share a curious thought that I’ve been carrying for a while. It comes from last week. I had the opportunity to spend a couple days with my extended family at the lake. We had a lot of fun. Did a lot of swimming, played a lot of games, I got to water ski, and my uncle graciously paid for me to do a fun, fancy, monkey, jungle gym. Like I said: a lot of fun. But there’s one instance from my trip that I can’t stop thinking about and I’m going to do my best to explain why.
One of the days we were driving from my aunt’s and uncle’s place to my grandparents’ condo, we ended up passing several police cars on the side of the road. I believe there were three, because my uncle made a comment about their number. However, if he hadn’t made that comment, I wouldn’t have realized the police cars were there at all. I was staring right out the window where the police cars were, but I didn’t see them. Why? Because something else stole my focus.
Beyond the police cars, in this giant puddle, was a beautiful bald eagle. I rarely see bald eagles in the wild and they’re very important to my family. My late grandfather was a big fan of bald eagles, so whenever anyone from the family sees one, there’s always the comment of “Ope! Grandpa’s here with us!” I love bald eagles too. Birds of prey have always been majestic and graceful in my eyes. So, when I spotted that bald eagle behind the police cars that day, I couldn’t quite believe it. I kept staring at it like: “is that really a bald eagle? Is my mind playing tricks and its actually a turkey vulture?” Yet, the white head was as clear as day. The bald eagle just stood in that giant puddle with posture strong and head held high. I couldn’t tell you why it was there. Maybe it was bathing in that puddle, but by the time I thought to point it out to my family, we had already driven past. If I made a comment now, they could choose not to believe me or ask “well, why didn’t you point it out sooner?”
That got me wondering as to why they didn’t they see it? There was about seven of us in the car. If any member of my family saw it, they would’ve pointed it out (they’re far more versed with their voices than I am). I assume that after my uncle made the comment about the police cars, then they would’ve all turned their heads that direction. Though, I suppose their focus would’ve been on the police cars and why they were there. That could mean they were looking around for any wrecks or pulled over cars. So, they could’ve looked past them to see the eagle, but still no one called the eagle out. They could’ve not spoken up about the eagle–which seems very unlikely to me, but is possible. Or, none of them actually saw it.
I guess it all comes down to focus. What were we all focusing on in that moment? It was roughly a thirty minute drive. I don’t remember conversation at that point. I was staring out the window the entire time. I love to look at the scenery. The landscape is beautiful down at the lake. I love picking out the details of nature. That’s probably why I didn’t see the three police cars as we passed them. I was filtering out everything manmade. My family, on the other hand, is more curious about the manmade stuff than I am. They’re more likely to discuss what’s gonna go up in that empty lot, or that diner being shut down, and wonder how they’re going to reconstruct the roads this time, etc. etc. And like any honest person, they want to know what’s going on with flashing lights and they want to see how bad the wreck is when they drive by. Again, I have no idea why those three police cars were on the side of the road. My family could probably tell you, but as you know, I was quite oblivious to them. All I saw was that bald eagle.
That’s another curious thought to me and I think it can be applied in so many situations. Sirens and flashing lights usually indicate something bad has happened. They’re loud and they’re meant to grab your attention. You’re supposed to get out of their way when they come around, but for naturally curious human beings, they lead you to what went wrong. It could be something as simple as a speeder getting pulled over, or it could be something awful like a housefire or a pileup on the highway. Bottom line: flashing lights on a police car generally indicate something negative. In my experience, negativity has a rippling effect. You see a bad wreck on the side of the highway and that could stick with you. You could do the right thing and say a prayer for those involved, or you could find yourself condemning them by saying “they were probably speeding” like they somehow deserved it.
It’s hard to see beyond the bad when you’re so used to it. If you drive the highway a lot, you’re going to see a lot of wrecks. Even the News these days has a lot of terrible things in it: a murder, a burglary, a spreading disease, a bunch of government whatnot. It’s a lot of noise and flashing lights to steal your focus and dampen your day. It can make you feel like nothing good ever comes out of anything. Yet, if you dare to look beyond the noise and the lights, you just might see a bald eagle.
They say every cloud has a silver-lining. There’s hope at the bottom of Pandora’s box. Well, tragedies happen everyday, but I believe it’s possible to soar on wings like eagles right over them. You just have to take a good look around and ask yourself: What’s your focus?