The pelican gracefully maneuvered from the beach, across the road, and landed in an old majestic oak tree that was dripping with moss. A split second after having this observation I remembered I was driving on that road and nearly plowed into the car that was in front of me. And at this heart-stopping moment I realized I was officially in the “Bird Watching” season of my life.
Here are the FOUR SEASONS of life as I see it…
I have come to believe that humans traverse through four seasons of life, not unlike the four seasons of a year. (Disclaimer: I’m not published in a medical journal nor do I have a TED Talk on this. It is just my observation. But it’s pretty accurate so keep reading!)
Season #1 is “Time Watching”
During this stage of our lives we are young and we are extremely self-absorbed. This manifests into vigorous watching of time—the expectation of many “firsts.” Walking, talking, going to school, sports, recitals, wearing make-up, dating, driving, voting—you get the picture.
It seems we are always looking forward to something and longing keeps us in a state of constant anticipation. And, BONUS!, we are center stage to all of them.
People take pictures, make videos, share on social media. All ME in all my “firsts” glory! Did I mention me, me, me? Think about it. This may be why children and teens often seem ornery and out of sorts—maybe it’s too many firsts.
That’s a lot of stimulus, people! Okay, this season gets enough attention so let’s move on, shall we?
Season #2 is “People Watching”
Once you move from watching time, it is inevitable you morph into watching others. Now, these “others” may consist of your own children, children of family members, children of your friends, children playing soccer, children singing in church, children in your neighborhood.
By now you are probably seeing a pattern. However, children are not the only people to watch. You may be watching parents, grandparents, neighbors. And let’s face it, parents are always watching for nefarious people that might be out trying to watch our people.
The people watching stage of life is so completely engrossing that you will lose decades of your own life and will have zero idea of what is going on in the world around you.
One time my now grown daughter asked me if I recognized a song on the radio that was from the ’90s and I had to explain to her that if Barney didn’t sing it, I don’t know it. My focus was on people watching. It is exhausting but will reap unimaginable benefits in the future.
Hang in there, people watchers! Your are warriors—fatigued, road-weary, sleepy warriors.
On to Season #3 (where I am now!) “Bird Watching”
After you have spent two decades watching people and then those people up and leave, it is somewhat discombobulating. Your trained mind and eye wants to peer at something and this is when you lock onto birds. I don’t think this is scientific data.
I do remember a time during my people watching phase that someone gave my dad (in his bird watching season) a bird feeder that suctioned to the window. Suctioned. To. The. Window. He cried.
Now that I am in this stage I, too, can’t get enough of birds. Two hummingbird feeders on my courtyard and a bluebird nest in my lemon tree bring joy beyond measure! I am quite certain that during my people watching days I never saw a bird in my life. Now I have found you can’t watch birds and not reflect on life and love and legacy.
This season is really about slowing down long enough to catch your breath and appreciate your existence. This explains what seems inexplicable—why grandparents act differently then when they were parents. No longer are they in charge of watching all the people, they can have this beautiful, introspective time to cherish and treasure.
You see, it’s not really about birds at all. But enough about fowl!
On to Season #4 which returns us back to “Time Watching”
Unfortunately we are not in anticipation of firsts, but we have a keen understanding of lasts. The first three phases of our lives have prepared us for this most difficult time. It is this natural progression from Selfish Season One to Sacrificial Season Two to Sentimental Season Three that helps us in our Supreme Season Four.
Recently there was a story going around on social media about a bride whose grandmother was ill and would, most likely, not be alive when the wedding was to take place. So this bride gets dressed and adorned in her wedding attire and visits her ailing grandmother to take pictures and to see each other for the last time. It was poignant and beautiful. What a blessing for the bride to have a recorded memory of this love.
I have often wondered what was going through the grandmother’s mind. As this young bride was about to transition seasons—-starting a life together with her husband, bringing new generations to the family, she had to be proud and incredibly hopeful for her beloved granddaughter. But I also wonder if she was scared or anxious watching as time slipped through her frail fingers.
Not everyone makes it this far. Not everyone experiences the full scope of life. There must be something indelible and rewarding in becoming a life witness. To be in the season where your journey on earth is revered and respected.
You may be wondering how long your life will last but you also must know that you have created lasting life through those people you so diligently watched those many years ago.
So, what have we learned?
I realize I’m not the first person to make observations about our time here on earth. On how we grow and change and mature. I do believe I have become more aware of those in my circle that are experiencing their seasons.
I can feel a common ground. I have more patience with others, especially those in the first season of life. I can be that way because I have the knowledge and, if I can confess, the pleasure of knowing it will come to a crashing halt when they have to shift to people watching!
I’m less critical and more attuned to others, like the exhausted mom in the grocery store wrangling three kids who just might need a reassuring smile from someone who has been there, done that. An acknowledgment that you can do this, people watcher, because your season is momentous.
I’m appreciative and thankful to other bird watchers who now have the time to share their thoughts and observations of life. And I am profoundly in awe of those watching final precious time for they are the ones that have accomplished a formidable deed. They have prevailed.
Some people don’t want to admit they are in their bird watching season but I’m okay with it.
I wish you all could have seen him.
He was a beautiful pelican.