I know I promised a post about my Orlando revelations; however, as I sat down to write it, I realized I’m not quite ready to put my thoughts into words just yet. In place of those revelations, I will give you my thoughts on a book I just finished reading. It’s called Wesley the Owl, and one of my very good new, New Jersey friends gave it to me for Christmas. I have a thing for owls; they’re kind of my thing. And, Wesley’s story (as told by his surrogate mother, Stacey O’Brien) was an amazing read. Aside from the myriad of facts about owls I learned, some of Stacey’s words and own personal experiences truly hit home for me. I thought I’d share my top three:
1. “So that was the key. You had to marry someone just as weird as you were. Hmm.” (132)
Stacey’s exploits into love and friendship remind me of my own. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I’ve felt that friends and people I love simply do not understand my lifestyle and my dedication to academics. I’ve been the weird book girl, the quiet one, the one who stays in the library until they kick me out rather than going out to the clubs and bars, and the one “avoiding real life” in graduate school. Needless to say, it’s taken a toll on some of my relationships, yet, like Stacey, it makes me appreciate those who can (or at least want and try) to understand me.
2. “Even though I’d been trained to exclude thoughts about spirits and unquantifiable, immeasurable feelings that could taint scientific conclusions, Wesley’s presence in my life influenced my thinking. Now I see that to exclude a certain kind of idea is itself creating a bias. What if the truth screams as loudly as a male barn owl crying for a mate, and we miss it because we have not allowed ourselves to listen to the channel it’s on – or we’ve tuned it out?” (177)
Although I am by no means a scientist like Stacey, I still struggle with a fear that I am constantly misreading the signs in my life. I believe that life presents us with little (or big) tools, or signs, that help us uncover our reason for being alive, our purpose. I believe the signs will continue to come for as long as we need them until we can decode them, but I still worry that I will never get it right, that I will spend my life chasing signs down the wrong roads, that I will misread, misunderstand. I’ve struggled a lot lately with feeling like I am misreading my own feelings. I’ve felt betrayed and befuddled by them more than usual, and it’s been tough on my spirit to keep going even when I feel like I’m clawing my way through a forest only to end up back where I began. Sometimes I wish I could sneak a peek at the picture the puzzle of my life is forming, just so I can know that I am headed in the right direction, just so that I know the things I want and need will be fulfilled, just so I can understand it all.
3. Guilt is just anger turned inward – anger at our helplessness in being unable to change the inevitable. But we are not gods…. My sister and I made a vow when I was eight years old. We would live our lives not by staying in the shallow, safer waters, but by wading as deep into the river of life as possible, no matter how dangerous the current. We knew that we had only one chance at this life and we decided to try to make every moment matter.” (223)
Again, Stacey seems to put my very thoughts into words. It’s taken me way past the age of eight to commit to a life in the deepest of life’s waters, but I agree that this is the only way to make life worthwhile. If we won’t go after what we want with full force, chase happiness with all we have, why bother doing anything?
So, if you are looking for a delightful memoir or are new to enjoying non-fiction, I suggest you check out Wesley the Owl. Wesley’s story and Stacey’s reflections spoke to me. I hope they speak to you as well.