I live on a river, near to the sea, and there are large flocks of birds, including lots of sea gulls.
It always seems to me that sea gulls actively enjoy flying – I’m sure that this is just a fancy on my part, but when I watch them glide and dive it seems to me that they do it for the sheer joy of flying. They do it because they can.
Sea gulls also seem to want to hunt their food – throw bread for them, and rather than land, walk up to it and eat, as most other birds do, they will swoop down, grab a piece of bread without stopping, and gain the air again.
When I stop feeding them out on the river bank here, they came and stand on the small parapet that marks the edge of the quayside, waiting for more food from me, or for something else to happen.
It was on one such occasion when I spotted a gull with only one leg. This caused a double take for a moment – was it just standing on one leg, with the other held up like flamingos do? No, it hopped along the wall, and it was evident that it did, indeed, have only one leg.
It seemed not to be a great disability for the bird – it did have to hop, where he others walked, but given the way the gulls feed on the wing, this didn’t seen a great disadvantage.
Did it even know it was “disabled”? It competed with the others for food – and as I saw this bird every so often for weeks, it seemed successfully. In flying it seemed to make no difference: and whilst it couldn’t walk like the others, it got around just find. It accepted what it was, and made the best go of life that it could.
Sometimes, we compare ourselves to others, and find ourselves wanting. This person has a better job; that person more money; he has a better writer; she is a better public speaker.
But the truth is we are all good at some things, and not so good at others. To be a success is to use the talents we have to the best of our ability. And sometimes, what makes us different makes us uniquely able. Paradoxical as it sounds, sometimes our biggest defects are our biggest assets.