The eagles that live in the canyons of the state of Colorado in the United States use a special kind of stick with which to build their nests. A female eagle can sometimes fly as many as two
hundred miles in a single day in order to find a branch from an ironwood tree. Not only are the ironwood sticks as strong as their name suggests, but they also have thorns that allow them to lock together so the nest can set securely on a ledge high up in the canyon. After building the nest, the eagle pads it with layer upon layer of leaves, feathers and grass to protect future offspring from the sharp thorns of the ironwood.
In her preparations, the female eagle goes to great lengths to promote the survival of the birds she will hatch. This interest in their survival extends well beyond their birth, although the expression of that interest changes. As the young eagles grow, they begin to fight for space in the nest. The chicks’ demands for food eventually become such that the mother eagle is unable to fulfill their needs. She instinctively knows that in order to survive, her brood is going to have to leave its nest.
To encourage the young eagles to fend for themselves, the mother pulls the padding out of the nest so the thorns of the ironwood branches prick the young birds. As their living conditions become more painful, they are forced to climb up on the edge of the nest. The mother eagle then coaxes the young eagles off the edge. As they begin to plummet to the bottom of the canyon, they wildly flap their wings to break their fall, and end up doing what is the most natural thing in the world for an eagle—they fly!
As human beings, we may often find ourselves in a similar situation. When our lives can no longer provide us with the growth we desire and change must take place, we may need to leave safety and familiarity behind and journey into unknown territory. Just as the baby eagles are reluctant to leave the nest, we may also resist change. Even though conditions may not be pleasant, we sometimes make an effort to tolerate the increasing discomfort because we’re afraid of the unknown. But if your ship is tied up at the dock, it doesn’t matter how you turn the rudder—that ship isn’t going anywhere!
Many times unpleasant conditions in our lives tell us that we are ready to move on and experience new areas of our potential. While our fear of the unknown might temporarily increase our tolerance of an uncomfortable situation, life’s circumstances may likely get thorny enough that, like the growing eagles, we’ll be coaxed into moving on. We can trust life and move ahead into new experiences with confidence because, in a wonderful way, we live in a friendly universe—a universe designed to support us and our activities. Dr. Irving Oyle recognized this when he commented, “The universe is not opposed to our best interest.”
Have you ever said to yourself, “I’ve wanted to do something like this, but never quite had the courage?” Take a look at the urge within your being that may be prompting you to step forward. When the time comes to venture out and accept new challenges, remember that everyone has an innate ability not only to survive but to prosper. We are designed by God, with the possibility to achieve high levels of success and to enjoy fulfillment and satisfaction in life. This means we do not have to settle for less than we’re capable of, unless that is our choice.
The following quote taken from the Association for Humanistic Psychology Newsletter was written by an eighty‑five-year-old woman. Take a moment and reflect on the wisdom shared through her observations:
“If I had my life to live over, I’d dare to make more mistakes next time. I’d relax. I’d limber up. I would be sillier than I’ve been this trip. I would take fewer things seriously. I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains and swim more rivers. I would eat more ice cream and less beans. I would perhaps have more actual ‘troubles,’ but I’d have fewer imaginary ones!
“You see, I’m one of those people who live sensibly and sanely hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I’ve had my moments, and if I had it to do over again, I’d have more of them! In fact, I’d try to have nothing else!
“Isn’t that delightful! Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
“I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute! If I had to do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.
“If I had my life to live over, I would start barefoot earlier in the spring and stay that way later in the fall. I would go to more dances. I would ride more merry‑go‑rounds. I would pick more daisies.”
So often, we have within our grasp a whole new way of life and fail to explore it. Why? Could one reason be that we may not be secure enough in who and what we are to release the pioneering spirit? An interesting thing is that we do have our life to live over. Everyday life comes for us to live a new experience. Over and over, around the calendar, twenty‑four new hours present themselves to us. Perhaps we could ask ourselves, regardless of our age, “Have I really lived all my years, or has each year been one day lived over and over again?”
Within each of us are resources that can be realized only when we climb to the edge of the nest, slip off into the air—and fly!