THE BLOG

The Way of the Pelican

04/04/2012 07:45 am ET | Updated Jun 04, 2012
  • Steve McSwain Speaker, Author, Counselor to Congregations, Ambassador to the Council on the Parliament for the World's Religions, and Spiritual Teacher

On a recent visit to Sarasota, I was captured by the sight of the beautiful pelicans as they gracefully, even effortlessly, soared through the air. I wondered what they were thinking knowing, of course, they were thinking nothing. Instead, they were just doing, or rather, being the wonderful creation they are. What was most striking was the way they allowed the winds to carry them. I know they must flap their wings. But I rarely ever saw them doing this. Instead, it seemed as if that all they did was spread their wings and the wind did the rest. It IS the way of the pelican.

It's your way and mine, too, isn't it? A kind of symbol of the way to live -- truly live -- wouldn't you agree? Sure beats the hell out of the way I lived for decades. Jesus said, "The wind blows where it will. You hear the sound but cannot tell from where it comes or where it goes."

I've been thinking about the fact that there are really only two ways to live your life. One is the way of almost certain difficulty, struggle. It is the way of thinking it's all up to you. That is, you not only have to spread your wings but generate the wind as well. So, you make up your mind where you must go, believing that with enough determination, fortitude and sheer will, you'll make it -- you'll one day arrive. One day, if you try hard enough to please, to prosper, to plow your way through, you'll reach a destiny of fulfillment, prosperity, happiness.

If that's true, then why is it that every achievement, and the temporary good feeling that comes with it, is all too quickly met with feelings of emptiness, even boredom, again? Why is it that, no matter what mountaintop you land, the view is not what you'd hoped. Instead, you're just tired ... empty ... and filled with stress? Disappointment.

This was the way of life for me for most of my life. Perhaps for you, too.

In the last few years, I've discovered another way. Which is similar to what I'm calling the way of the pelican. There's no effort here. No striving. Fighting. Clamoring to get ahead. Outsmart everyone else. Achieve more. Seek to have more. As a consequence, there are few worries on this way and hardly ever stress. It's just a way of being -- or, more accurately, it IS just being. Just allowing. Just living.

Perhaps I could frame it this way: it is the way of effortless trust in a kind of Divine Wind -- the Unseen Winds of Eternal Spirit. But then, you can call it whatever you wish. Or, call it nothing at all. But, for me, it is the way of the mysterious, the inexplicable, perhaps even the miraculous. In this way of living, every wind, even the ones that I too quickly in the past would label contrary, are really the mysterious winds that shape you, as well as carry you, to your destiny to genuine fulfillment, contentment and peace.

It IS amazing indeed. And, as far as I'm concerned, this life is available to anyone, anywhere, any time. You'd don't have to be religious in any traditional sense or confess to a certain set of beliefs. You don't have to do anything at all. Except perhaps be aware.

"Aware of what?" you ask.

Just be aware that, when you decide to give up the inner struggle to find yourself -- to stop striving to be someone you're not, to cease trying to believe all the "right" things, just because some religious authority said you had to, to give up trying to control everything that happens, especially in your own life -- and, instead, just look and observe the world around you, look and observe your own life. Maybe in doing so, you will see what I've been seeing in the last few years. Something similar to the way of the Pelican -- just how effortless life may be when lived by the wind. Blessed journey my friend.

Wait till you see the view from this perspective!

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