I've been on a routine with my friend Jenny of walking each weekday morning along the beach, followed up by a swim out as far as the conditions will allow. When Jenny went to Tahiti a few weeks ago, I continued to walk alone each morning, this time with my Ipod. (My Mom said that she read somewhere that things take 21 days to become a habit ... Jenny and I are in over 100 days now, so I have to carry on without her, and vice-versa).
The Shuffle feature on my Ipod is schizophrenic, to say the least. Leonard Cohen will become Rage will become Dean Martin singing Christmas songs will become the Frida soundtrack. I like to think it's kind of psychic as to how I'm feeling, but I think I'm probably wrong. One recent morning I was rocking along, totally immersed in Prince (Controversy), when I saw a Homeless Guy shuffling towards me, and in between us was a weird bird, one I've never seen before. It was in some kind of distress as it wasn't taking off the closer the Guy and I got to it. It had webbed feet like a duck, but normal bird black and white body, but then BRIGHT red eye circles around beady black eyes. The Guy and I nodded our chins at each other, and then passed on by.
A few feet later, we both turned around and looked back at the bird. He saw me turn and said something, that was drowned out by Prince. I took out my headphones and said, "Sorry, what?" He said, "I think he's hurt". I said, "I think so too". We both walked back and looked closer. The bird stayed put. A wave would come and push it along the sand, one time spinning it around so hard it was difficult to watch. The Guy said, "Maybe if I push it up a little bit with my shoe it won't get washed away?" As I was walking barefoot, I said, "Yeah, try that". He did, and it worked a little bit, but after some hissing and craning of the neck, the bird was still not moving. "I don't want it to peck at me if it's sick", said the Guy. "Yeah, me neither", I answered. "Maybe I should go tell the Lifeguard and they can call the Marine Animal people?" We pondered that while watching some more.
The Guy said, "I think he's exhausted from trying to just survive". We exchanged a glance that kind of felt like, "I know how he feels". It was an interesting understanding, and felt pretty heavy. He asked if I had any food to give the bird. I shrugged "Nope", as I didn't have much on, and no pockets. We stood silently for a moment, just watching the poor thing. Finally the Guy said, "I think I have a Vitamin E capsule in my backpack". Kind of random, but it was worth a shot. Energy, maybe? He dug the pill out of his bag, and walked over to place it on the sand in front of the bird.
All of a sudden, the thing went bezerk, flapping its wings and squawking like a maniac. It lifted off the ground and flew to the top of a wave, and then duck-dove under it like a surfer and was back in its element, like nothing ever happened! The Guy and I looked at each other with raised eyebrows and frowns, like "Hm. What do you know about that?" We watched the bird swim along for a moment, making sure he was cool. Once that seemed to be established, I shrugged and said, "Well ... Good Luck to us all!" The Guy smiled and said, "Yep, good luck to us all".
And we all returned to our own lives, having begun our respective days with another perfectly Venice moment.