The Boy, The Girl, and The Barn Owl
The little boy kicked in the dirt. The little boy hoped that the stones embedded in the dirt would come loose so that he could use them, to shoot cans, in his target practice. The boy had just made his first slingshot, like he’d seen Rory at school have at lunch time — in the play yard.
“There”, spoke the little boy with a smile and a sense of satisfaction, a stone had eventually come loose. The boy picked it up, blew off the dirt, and with his grubby hand placed the stone in his pocket…..
The barn owl, perched in the tree above, unknowingly watched the seven-year-old boy and felt contentment in his beating owl heart…
Years passed…… The now grown-up boy was racing along the dirt, stopping to catch his breath. Hunched over and resting his hands on his knees. Panting and panting… Unbeknownst to the now grown-up boy he was standing underneath the same old sycamore tree that housed the barn owl, who had been quietly watching the boy grow up.
The barn owl decided to speak.
“It’s important to know when to slow down, to be present…. life will be more enjoyable that way”.
The now grown-up boy looked up and for the first time witnessed the barn owl, perched in the old sycamore tree.
The grown-up boy took a moment to catch his breath, and then he spoke in return, “Why would I want to slow down you old foolish owl. I am young and energetic — nothing is going to stop me!”.
The barn owl watched as the boy raced off and continued on his way.
Many years passed and the boy was now a young man. The young man was wheeled in a wheelchair by a carer, who stopped for some shade under the old sycamore tree.
The young man remembered the barn owl from his past and looked up into the tree to see that the barn owl was indeed still there, perched on the same branch.
The barn owl decided to speak, “It’s important to let your guard down, and let people in instead”.
This information irritated the young man no-end. The young man replied, “I do not need the pity of those around me. I prefer my own company instead”.
With that, the carer then wheeled the young man further along, down the path…
Many more years passed. The now old man was wheeled in his wheelchair by another carer, who also stopped for some shade under the old sycamore tree.
The old man looked up once again into the tree to see if the barn owl was still there. And yes, the barn owl still was.
The old man immediately looked back down and ignored the barn owl. The barn owl decided to speak.
“It’s important to practice being grateful for the little things…this creates a bountiful foundation for life”.
The old man spluttered and choked and the carer placed an oxygen mask on the old man to help him catch his breath. When the old man’s breathing had evened out, the oxygen mask was removed and the old man spoke, with a faint, croaking, spluttering voice. “How dare you imply that there is anything to be grateful for in this world. I can’t wait for this all to be over….”
With that, the carer then wheeled the old man, further along down the path.
The old man was never to witness the barn owl again.
A week later, the barn owl flew off his comfortable perch in the old sycamore tree and landed on a window ledge on the outside of the local hospice. The barn owl looked through the window and witnessed that five family members were gathered around the old man’s bed, wanting to say their final goodbyes, before the old man passed.
The old man, very slowly, and painstakingly, tilted his face and directed his eyes towards his younger brother, who was sitting by his side. The old man very carefully looked directly into his younger brother’s eyes… for the first time in his life. The younger brother’s grandson, who was also sat perched alongside the hospice bed, stared directly into the old man’s eyes also, for the first time.
A solo tear leaked out of the old man’s eyes, as he witnessed the love radiating out from his younger brother and his younger brother’s grandson.
The old man gently whispered….“I’m sorry”.
These were the last words that the old man ever spoke.
Cassius Goodwin was a bright little girl who loved wearing her favourite red dress and her shiny black shoes. Cassius was running, and playing outside, having a great time, twirling around and around, with her arms outstretched, spinning under the shady branches of the old sycamore tree.
As Cassius looked up, she noticed a barn owl in the tree, and a little fledgling by its side.
“Aww…. how cute”, spoke Cassius. Admiring the barn owl and it’s young.
“Cassius, dinner is ready”, called Cassius’s Mother, from further down the street.
“Okay, okay”, replied Cassius, as she took one more glance at the barn owl, and it’s young, and then headed off home for supper.
A few years later, Cassius Goodwin was again under the shade of the old sycamore tree, this time “making out” with the hottest guy from High School. The hottest guy from high school kissed Cassius, like she’d never been kissed before. Cassius felt like she was on fire… in a good way.
The hot guy then had to leave. Cassius was left standing under the old sycamore tree, in a cloud of romance and relentless passion, when the barn owl decided to speak, “Looks may come and go, but what is really important is how someone treats you, and the way that you treat yourself”.
Cassius glanced up at the owl and said to herself, “What a funny thing to say, you silly old owl”. And off Cassius headed, back home for supper, feeling as though she was on cloud nine.
Many years passed, Cassius Goodwin arrived at the old sycamore tree and collapsed against its trunk, sobbing and rocking herself, attempting to soothe all the pent-up emotions that were bubbling to the surface.
Many minutes passed, possibly hours, and Cassius finally felt spent of all her emotions. Cassius casually looked up, as she remembered from her youth, the old barn owl from years past. The barn owl was still on his perch in the old sycamore tree, and he witnessed that one of Cassius’s eyes was now a deep shade of black and blue.
“You were right”, Cassius finally spoke. “I’ve been in a disrespectful relationship for many years now, all because of how we look together. I know I deserve better. Today is a new day for me”.
With that, Cassius finally stood up, and with a shaky breath, inhaled the faintest glimpse of a feeling that the barn owl recognised as self-determination. Cassius dusted the dirt off her pants, turned and stood in a new direction, and then started taking steps down a new path — that her newly found determination was leading her to. The seeds were being planted.
Many years again passed, Cassius and her daughter stopped to appreciate the shade that was provided by the old sycamore tree.
Cassius looked up into the tree and was surprised to see that the old barn owl was still indeed there.
A smile spread across Cassius’s face, as she fondly remembered the pearls of wisdom from the barn owl. The barn owl had helped to plant the seeds of determination within herself, as she stepped out and embraced life in a whole new way. It had been hard. Even painfully so. Cassius had to slowly learn to embrace life one shaky breath, and one shaky step, at a time. Cassius also had to learn how to practice patience and persistence, and also learn how to love herself. Much endurance had been required as she learned to also practice forgiveness, and to also start feeling at peace with her past.
Reaching out for support and having relationships that fostered being genuine also helped Cassius immensely. Consistently showing up for herself had made Cassius stronger and more resilient on the inside — and Cassius had bought these new characteristics and feelings of self-worth into her new relationships. And yet, Cassius wasn’t perfect by any means…. at times she still navigated life with deeply ingrained unhelpful habits, but now she also knew that this was part of being a human being (she had a great mentor and therapist!) — and so she practiced accepting all her imperfections also — and made amends where need be.
Now Cassius was in a committed, mutually respectful, loving relationship with her partner. And was also experiencing all of the emotions that arose from being a mother to her now 10-year-old daughter, Bree.
Eventually, with his heart full of love, the barn owl decided to speak, “It’s important, as your daughter grows up, that you share your life experiences with your daughter — so that she too can learn about self-loving choices. As you yourself have learnt dear Cassius, life’s not about being perfect, but rather recognising we have a choice to learn from our past. We start loving ourselves from within, and from that loving space we naturally start making different choices, new habits and different doors and directions arise. Now, as you also know dear Cassius, that it’s not always easy. I have witnessed many human beings over the years repeating the same patterns of negativity and self-loathing over and over. Some are full of anger and hatred. Some stay in the pattern of blame and shame. It’s important to realise that as I speak of these people — I do not judge them. I trust that their life is unfolding as it is meant to. And I guarantee you that these people will learn to love themselves in their own way, and in their own time. But I wanted to take this time, dear Cassius, to acknowledge that work that you have done on yourself, the example that you can lead your daughter by, perfectly imperfectly….I trust that she also has much to teach you too. And your self-example of embracing a heart-centred life will help heal the hearts also of all the people you encounter and relate with. I am most grateful today. Thank You”.
Cassius felt her heart swell with love and pride. She felt that the barn owl’s initial wisdom had saved her life.
Cassius lovingly thanked the owl, squeezed her daughter’s hand and smiled with inner-contentment and happiness, and then continued walking along the path…. embracing her heart-centred life.