I was listening to the BBC World Service on Saturday afternoon and heard the tale of Paul the pigeon. Now Paul, identified by his ID ring as from the North East of England, had flown way off course on his cross-Channel race to France and was 483km out into the Atlantic. Presumably exhausted, he had the good fortune to land on the deck of British frigate HMS Somerset. That in itself was a stroke of luck but it gets better. On board was Leading Seaman William Hughes, an ex-pigeon fancier, who caught the peripatetic pigeon, constructed a temporary coop and fed him energy-giving breakfast cereal. When Hughes checked ‘Paul’ over he found out that he was in fact a she. But why let a gender mix-up ruin a heart-warming tale?
On a deeper level this story is a reminder that sometimes when we lose our way, help is at hand and things are happening for good reason; we just can’t see it at the time. One of the quotes on a post-it note above my desk reads: “Don’t be in the know, be in the mystery.” Whether we’ve taken a leap of faith or somehow become de-railed, things often work out for the best – if we don’t interfere and, instead, let our lives unravel and reveal their own logic.
In January when I returned to Australia from a Christmas visit to family in Britain, I came down with flu almost the minute I stepped off the plane. With the sorest of sore throats, racking cough, sweating, vomiting and aching all over, it all felt too much to bear on top of the homesickness I always feel after visiting my native country. Lonely, weak, weary and unable to distract myself with television, reading or radio – everything hurt – I descended into a poor-me black hole. Big OUCH and Big Tears.
But being grounded and forced to STOP proved to be the biggest gift. Once I started to feel stronger, the survivor in me kicked in and I turned myself around into a more positive frame of mind. I sat in bed with a notebook and wrote out how I would like my life to look. To cut a long story short, I decided to leave an unfulfilling job and return to freelancing, to carry out some renovations to my house so I could more easily rent out a room, to get a dog and to put less effort into making things happen and experiment more with letting life come to me.
Thanks to the flu, I’m now free of a job that left me drained and despondent, I’ve reconnected with my writing, reached final design stage with my renovation plans and, best of all, Bertie dog is sitting under my desk as I write this. According to the article, Paul/Pauline has retired from racing. Sometimes, illness, accidents or other perceived dramas are just what we need to take us to the next stage of our journey.