The Eagle And The Sparrow [How Not To Get Old And How To Enjoy It]
These two birds are encouraging me to remember my skills and talents and continue to use them to create and inspire. It is absolutely clear that it is time for me to soar into my spiritual future.
I sat outside with my wife drinking a hot lemon. As we sat gazing at the mountains circling around behind us we saw an eagle floating around high overhead. Although eagles are fairly common in the mountains in this part of Spain, this is the first time I have seen one fly so obviously over our house.
The Extraordinary Encounters I Had
Soon afterwards we sat in the pergola, sheltering from the sun and eating our breakfast. A sparrow flew in and sat on a leg of the pergola and chirped away at us. For a few minutes I had a 'conversation' with the bird who was not concerned that we were so near. We see many sparrows around our house, but they tend to be more wary of us and never have one so directly communicated with me.
I was struck by the closeness of these encounters, realising that there was deep significance here. It is relatively easy to see this but less easy to interpret what is going on. Thinking through what happened and understanding the significance of the two birds I realised that this revelation was, for me multi-layered.
The Significance of the Eagle and the Sparrow
To see these layers it is necessary to first look into the energetic significance of the two birds.
The Eagle: An eagle appears to inspire a person to be courageous and to stretch their limits. It is time for them to reach higher and become more than they believe they are capable of. It is time to look at things from a new, higher perspective, to be patient with the present, and know that the future holds possibilities that they may not yet be able to see. People influenced by eagles are seen as visionaries, people who are seekers and are willing to push the limits of self-discovery and personal freedom. Eagles bring them a sense of courage and a desire to explore and grow. The lesson of the eagle is to take a look from where it sees, to have the courage to relinquish stale and comfortable beliefs, to soar into unknown and new realities, and to continue to expanding the view. It is the time to take full responsibility for life. As spiritual awareness increases, the positive and negative effects will become more immediate and have greater force.
The Sparrow: The small sparrow is one of the most common birds but is often overlooked, its power taken for granted. The sparrow energy is both powerful and productive. Its persistence and integrity shows people that they do not have to be big to make a difference, they do not need to have the biggest and best things in order for their voices to be heard. In the wild, these birds are constantly working collecting food and gathering. They teach people to work for what they want. By accomplishing things that they can be proud of, they will continue to boost their self-esteem and sense of worth. The sparrow is a symbol of protection and communal involvement, as they achieve their power through strength of numbers. The sparrow inspires people to stand up for themselves, but also stresses the importance of compassion and the emphasis on teamwork. Sparrows move, eat, rest, and take part in activities as a group, which can be quite intimidating for a predator, no matter how large and fierce it is.
The Big Picture and the Detail
The top layer is the most obvious to me. It confirms that I have a fascinating gift of being able to see the big picture and the details of issues at the same time. The eagle soars overhead seeing far and understanding the lay of the land. The sparrow flies around close to the ground, encountering the individual objects, such as trees and insects, that he has to live with.
This ability had been a particular bonus to me in my work as an architectural lighting designer. Design is about marrying the two ends of the scale in any project and success in design is about doing that well. In projects as diverse as cathedrals, theatres, and city lighting strategies, I was able to envision an over-arching theme that was consistent and inspiring. I always conceived this by detailed and close attention to the fine details of equipment, fixings, and client needs.
These two birds are encouraging me to remember my skills and talents and continue to use them to create and inspire.
The eagle is encouraging me to look beyond my narrow personal needs and views to take in the bigger picture. This is something I am good at but have been ignoring. Move beyond my comfortable beliefs and see what is out there in the future. There is change in the air and it is time to let my scepticism go and embrace optimism.
The sparrow is showing that the detailed work is done in community something that is is far more powerful than I have so far realised. Seemingly powerless people can come together and create great change.
My Spiritual Development
It is absolutely clear that it is time for me to soar into my spiritual future. I am already seeing things which I had up to now ignored. I can tap into large-scale shifts in spiritual energy that are out there right now. I can fly high and focus on the individual items I need to catch onto. The sparrow, however teaches me to work in community, a balance to the loneliness of the eagle. Balance is what achieves growth and success and the balance of the two birds is perfect.
Working in community will not only achieve success through attention to detail but will also back up the strength of the eagle with the strength of the sparrow.
The working out of the details of these revelations is for another time, but a time that is not far distant. On the Summer Solstice my wife and I are having a Celebration of Light to honour our name days. It will be a year since I adopted my new name and it will be a time to reflect on where this change is taking me. That is why these two birds appeared to me today and spoke to me.
Getting Old? Absolutely Not!
In looking at the future I refuse to get old and expect to become a cantankerous old man. May you all look forward to years of fun and danger and may you scare the wits out of your children. I fully intend to honour my life by being everything I can be until I drop dead.
I am just a few months away from becoming an official 'Old Age Pensioner' (a UK term for the more gentle US term 'Senior Citizen') myself. I will be grateful for the State Pension, having paid into it my whole working life, but I don't feel old. I am the same age as many of the tired people I see in 'Koi', my favourite cafe, but I feel as I'm from a different planet.
I am overweight and find hill-walking difficult. I no longer run, perhaps more through laziness. My hair is white and I enjoy more rest than I used to. I need glasses to read but I don't feel my body failing. I don't see age sucking me down into its abyss. I don't think about death or what might have been.
I think of the future and all the things I want to do and I trust that I will have the time.
Some men in their fifties see their lives fading away. They start to count the physical failings and see them as ticks of a clock winding towards midnight. These old men make me sad and they make me angry. They feed the paranoia people have about getting old, encouraging people to think that fifty is the start of the end.
Quarter Life Crisis
I laughed last year when I read a blog post from a 25 year old girl who was worried that time was running out on her being able to achieve what she wants in life. The fact that she was approaching thirty was a sign of impending doom for her.
Staying young in your mind is not about positive thinking. It's not about pushing the future away and pretending to be younger than you are. I see many men in jeans and tee shirts who are pretending, and they look even older. They are not accepting what they are: they are refusing to acknowledge the signs.
My secret is to fully accept who I am, fully accept the age I am and fully accept the opportunities that await me. A year ago I started my third career and I intend that I will be as successful in this career as I was in the previous two.
What Am I Going To Do?
I left school at eighteen and ran away to the theatre. There followed many hectic and exciting years working in drama, ballet, opera, even in a strip club. I was a Stage Manager, an Electrician and a Lighting Designer. I travelled, worked, drank and, occasionally, ate and slept. I had fun and I didn't take care of myself. I swirled through life until one day I found I was in my thirties. I was married and was about to start having children and I knew I couldn't carry on living as I was.
I faced that old question,"What am I going to do?" I had been working for around 15 years and I had no real career to follow. Could I catch up? I looked at my age and worked out that I could do everything I had done, since I left school, twice over before retirement. That didn't even account for the additional years I might enjoy. My uncle died when he was 94, almost 30 more years beyond retirement age. On that basis I could do it all another 4 times, as long as I was physically able.
The remaining 30 years of my life so far has been taken up with a new career and family. I became an Architectural Lighting Designer and established a large body of work and a reputation. I loved what I did and I made lots of friends amongst colleagues and clients. I always vowed to retire from the job at 60, but not to retire from life.
Leaving My career
When I left lighting design, I began a career as a writer, teacher and mentor, something I have always wanted to do. This is a great time to start it: with a wealth of experience behind me and opportunity in front of me. If I live to my nineties, which I fully intend to do, I will have the same length of time doing enriching work as I spent building my last career. Writing, teaching, and mentoring do not rely on physical ability, unlike both my previous careers. As long as I can type and use the internet, I can work.
My children have learned that I am independent and capable of looking after myself. I think they expect me to become a determined, cantankerous old man, not someone that can be put down in a old people's home. If they do not already, they will find out.
Men can carry on being physically potent and can enjoy sex until they die, if they look after themselves, and can become fathers into their eighties. Women have a clock ticking inside them. I know from living with women what the menopause does for women, psychologically as well as physically. The women say they have to accept it and adjust to it. It's said that men have something similar to menopause. Maybe it's true, but it doesn't have the physical immediacy or intensity of women's experience.
Mind and Body
Sexual potency is one thing that changes differently in men and women, in my experience, but the world of the mind continues, and the body will carry it where the mind wills, in men and women, alike. A friend of my mother had been a Girl Guide Commissioner and a very active lady. She lived on her own in her late seventies after her husband had died. She was planning a trip to China to visit some remote areas. Her daughter came to visit because she was worried about the trip, considering her mother's age. Her mother stopped her as she was persuading her against the trip. The mother said, "I'm sorry, dear, if I inconvenience you by dying on the trip, giving you all the bother of shipping my body back home, but rest assured if that happens you will know that I died happy!" The daughter shut up and, of course, the trip went well with the mother having a fabulous time.
May you all, men and women, look forward to years of fun and danger and may you scare the wits out of your children. As a man I have been gifted with an ability to keep going. I fully intend to honour that gift by being everything I can be until I drop dead.