Friday, December 7, 2007

In The Moments Before Flight

Life is filled with simple joys, moments of clarity that are gone in a flash. I have to remind myself to stop, take them in, letting them become part of me and my memory. Simple moments of pleasure with my teenage son are few and far between. His time is precious and divided between friends, work, and school. He's almost eighteen, ready to burst onto the scene and be his own man - so family takes a backseat. That is just as it should be, as it was for me when I was eighteen, itching to leave my parents house and all I'd ever known far behind me.

So when he came bounding around from the other side of the Santa Monica Pier I had to smile because he was smiling in that wide-eyed way that gets lost as we grow older. He held a napkin in his hands. Inside the napkin was cold french fries from lunch earlier in the restaurant at the end of the boardwalk.

"Mom, you've got to see this!" He motioned for me to follow.

I'll admit that there are times when I am too busy, too caught up in my own head to notice, to stop the inertia of the day and just follow my children to "go see this cool thing". It's a painful flaw that I'm working to correct. This time we were on vacation. I was relaxed and I saw his excitement radiate across the space between us. "What is it?" I laughed.

"Just come on."

He led the way around the clapboard arcade building to the other side of the pier and looked out over the Pacific ocean for a moment. His face and body relaxed as he breathed in the salt air. He pointed to a group of sea gulls trotting across the sand below us, opened the napkin and took out a fry. "Watch this."

He threw the greasy morsel high into the air. The birds took off like jets. One lucky bird caught the fry in his mouth right in front of our faces. My son started laughing - laughing like he did as a small boy, the half-chuckle, half-cackle that always accompanied the opening of birthday presents.

"Oh my gosh! This is really something!" I yelled as more birds swarmed over our heads. They swooped and hovered close enough to count the leathery toes hanging between the loose webbing of their feet. I saw their stained belly feathers. I'd never noticed how their slick bodies glistened in the sun. I marveled at the miracle of flight and imagined for a moment that I joined them in the sky. I think my son wished to be airborne, too. For a moment he looked lighter, brighter, luminescent.

When the last french fry was thrown and caught, all the birds, except one, retreated to the water's edge. The lone gull perched on the railing in front of us. We looked at him. He stared at us. More food, anything? He waited. We watched silently, afraid to break the spell. Then he was gone and so was the moment of connection to something bigger, more important than our daily routine.
My son tossed the napkin in the trash and leaned on the rail, in the exact spot where the bird had just been. He stared across the beach to the mountains far away. I studied him as I'd studied the bird, silent and still, afraid to breathe.


FishHawk said...

Blessed are those who are allowed and enabled to share such moments with others: especially when with members of their own family.

Lisa McGlaun said...


Good to hear from you. I indeed felt blessed to share this moment with my son.

Best Wishes,

franscud said...

Hi Lisa,

That is a wonderful story. It's amazing how a very simple moment with those we love can be filled with such wonder. I know I too often get lost chasing big moments, and lose sight of these smaller equally special ones.

Thanks for the insight, as always.

My compensation in return is a possibly silly but heartfelt award :) ...

Anonymous said...

Very very nice Lisa. Extremely well written. We must have been on the same wavelength today, except yours was more positive. Take the time and make the time to be with those you love before there's no more time. Love the post.

Lisa McGlaun said...


I'm honored that you thought of me for the friendship award. I feel the same about you. I'm very blessed to have friends like you.


Lisa McGlaun said...


I think about that often too. My parents are getting older and they live so far away from me. I do think about it.

I'm glad you liked my little post.


Dexter Francois said...

Awesome post. Your writing is captivating. Have you ever read "Johnathan Seagull" by Richard Bach? Your pictures reminded me of the book. It's an awesome tale of a seagull that realizes that there's more to life than just the everyday search for food. He discovered that if he flew faster and higher, leaving his "comfort zone", there was nothing he couldn't do. Maybe the last seagull that stuck around was your Johnathan Seagull reminding you of all of creations awesomeness. Happy blogging.

Lisa McGlaun said...

I read Johnathan Seagull years ago. I didn't even make the connection when I wrote the post. Thanks for pointing that out and joining my neighborhood in BC...much appreciated.

I hope you keep reading..:)


Mr. Grudge said...

Hi Lisa,
Kids are only young once, right? Each moment is precious, though I sometimes forget that. This is a wonderful memory, one I am sure you will cherish. Thank you for sharing.

Lisa McGlaun said...


It is a good memory but for me it was also about slowing down. My life has gotten rather frantic in the last few years. I want to get back to a more managable pace, one where I don't feel so hurried and can be more spontaneous.

Best Wishes,