I was following behind my adoptive family. There was a whole forest to cover. Halfway through our trek we circled my grandfather's three ponds. He had each pond dug for a type of fish. A particular habitat for particular creatures. We were on the banks of "Trout Pond". The dry heat of summer made for thirsty babies.
Without notice, a giant head gulped out of the water and into the air.
It took one of her babies. One swallow.
Tachycardia immediately took hold in my little heart.
There was nothing I could do.
I waited and waited to see bubbles, signs of a fight, or even a way to grab that baby eating demon and yank the bird from its belly.
The surface again grew still. Momma killdeer had finally seemed to understand that her baby was gone. It felt like an eternity, but after about five minutes she seemed ready to trudge on with the surviving offspring.
In my afterthoughts, I began to wonder if grandpa could come save my friend. I then worried that he would blame me for being with the animals in the first place.
Or worse, he wouldn't even be hurt by what happened to baby bird.
That's if I could even get him to believe me that a giant mouth came out of the water and on to the bank just to eat that baby in one gulp. I was mortified.
I spent the rest of the day on the bank of that pond, alone.
What good was a world where the babies get eaten and the monsters are real?
To this day my developed adult brain cannot fathom the true identity of the killer. Giant trout, rouge muskie, homicidal turtle....I couldn't pick him out of a line-up. This small afternoon occurrence scarred me for life though. It's something I'll never really let go of and it was my first instance of realizing how terribly wrong things can go.
My heart was broken and nobody understood. Best to work through it myself than babble nonsense to my elders. (They were savage. My grandpa had been in the war and traveled the world. I'm pretty sure they'd eat the dog if they had to. I can't throw a rock at a nuisance squirrel.) I wasn't upset that the bird had to die, I was upset that I could do nothing to change what happened.
A horrifying realization, but a necessary truth. Fast forward twenty or so years.
Another year has gone by and my struggle of dealing with small minds, continues to grow. Complacency makes me ill. My eternal patience grows thin.
People who see no deficiencies in themselves, are not my kind of people. I myself am fully flawed.
Regardless of your god or belief system, you must know by now that negative people and negative interactions are as toxic as drinking a self made poison.
If I do not guard my weak spots, the rot will get in. I have gotten good at this over the past few years. What I thought was a phase of life, has actually turned out to be an immense period of growth.
I am "shedding skin" again.
I can feel it.
While I am no fan of constant change, I do believe in necessary change. My life is best when I embrace it, rather than fight the pull.
But there's a nagging realization that I am just a baby on the shore, and there's monsters just waiting to pull me in.
My absense would only be noticed temporarily. While the belly of my enemy will be full. Everyone else around the pond will say,
"That's the price you pay...."
Inner strength creates the outer foundation and I'm in the midst of a big build. Ironically after all the things I've seen, I do not fear death.
The fact that I am mortal gives me no anxiety.
There is clarity in permanance.
This is part of the fuel for my drive.
I have no time to waste.
Adventure is calling and I must go.
And for the first time in all of my years, I know my head and my heart are in the right place.
If I am to be swallowed, I hope it's in one gulp.