Pelican Attack

September 25, 2007
At one point in my life, I was naïve enough to think that everyone and everything could always understand my intent. That time is over, and it’s all because of one insubordinate pelican.

6:58 pm and the Australian horizon shimmered with sweeping pinks and azures. Parakeets fluttered from palm tree to palm tree as unseen tides washed the broken coast. The serenity of the moment was engulfing, but little did I know the mood was about to change. My father and I were meandering aimlessly through the park when we spotted a bird unlike any of the others. A magnificent pelican, 20 yards away, stood like royalty upon its grassy plain. I glanced up at my father and asked, “Can I feed it some bread?” indicating to the day-old loaf in my hand.

“Sure, go for it,” he smiled at me. I began to creep towards the creature ever so slowly and halted about 5 feet away. I quickly broke off a quarter-sized chunk and tossed it in the bird’s direction. All was still. The bird, which I now discerned was nearly my size, seemed to not to have noticed. So I tried again, breaking off a slightly larger piece and lobbing it at the ground in front of it.

“Why won’t it eat it?” I demanded, reaching down for more bread.

“Maybe it’s not hungry,” my father replied.

“Stupid bird,” I thought to myself. “You are going to eat this bread!” and I chucked the whole loaf at the seemingly tranquil pelican. The bird appeared slightly startled to see such a large object flying through the air at it, but otherwise remained quite still as the food landed one foot from it. The pelican’s interest in my offering had not increased at all.

“This bird’s dumb, Daddy, let’s go feed some other ones.”

“Okay, just get the bread,” he responded indifferently. He was right though, I needed that loaf back.

“Ok, I’ll just take it back. The bird won’t care; it doesn’t want it anyways.” I thought to myself. I gradually edged my foot towards the object, concentrating all my focus on my extending limb. Just as my shoe touched the bread, movement caught my eye. I looked up horrified to see the pelican’s enormous mouth stretching fully open as it emitted a sound resembling something between a lion’s roar and a battle cry of a Spartan officer.

“AHHHHH!!!!” I shrieked and turned sprinting away as the monster dashed angrily after me, flapping its wings wildly.

I don’t think I stopped running for a half an hour; and I didn’t stop crying for at least 45 minutes. The last thing I remember seeing was the pelican returning to its grass to guard its newly found treasure.

After my run-in with the pelican I grasped the reality that I am not the only being on this earth that possesses the ability to think. Whether it’s other people, animals, or cultures, a message or action can always be misinterpreted. To me it was just a piece of bread, but to the bird it was something completely different. I understand that my patience must be stronger and that everyone is experiencing life from their own point of view. Therefore I must be more cautious of the way I communicate, regardless of who I‘m communicating to, be it my best friend, or simply a silly pelican that refuses to eat the bread.

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