Have you ever seen an animal in the wild that really spoke to you? An animal that you happen to see as a sign of strength in tough times? An animal that appears out of nowhere to remind you that you are on the right path? One that flys right over head or looks you directly in the eyes as if to say, “I see you.”
My Ex used to fish a lot in his early recovery and still does. He is now about 10 years clean; clean for as long as were together off and on, actually. He’d always come home with his ‘big fish’ stories. I enjoyed those, but the ones I enjoyed the most were his tales of the elusive Blue Heron that seemed to magically appear by his side on every fishing trip.
It seemed to us that it was the same bird every trip, because he always fished in the same spot in French Creek, near Yellow Springs where I lived tucked away in a little carriage house. I remember trout fishing with him on many occasions there and knowing how peaceful it was to me, I can only imagine what peace that brought to him in his early recovery. Plus, the ‘creek’ meant a lot to us as a couple. On our first date, we went walking through the woods. It was raining and I took a spill down a hillside in brand new white clothing. We laughed it off and went to the river to wash ourselves clean. He said that was the moment he fell in love. I was the only girl to dip my feet in the water of his trout streams. The only girl who could laugh off a face plant in the mud and the only girl who would dare to get wet in the rain.
We never did see that blue heron together, but he always saw it alone during his solitude. He said he loved watching it fly the course of the river downstream, as if a car was traveling down a beautiful windy road. It was graceful. It was beautiful. It was enormous. It was ethereal and elusive. He saw it as a sign of strength and hope in those early days of his sobriety. Each day he’d go fishing, the bird would get closer and closer to him, as if to say…”everyday, I trust you a little more.”
The last day I remember him talking about his new blue friend, he said that it stood behind him as he fished, and he fed his catch to him that day. Thankful and fed, the Blue Heron flew off into the abyss with a graceful pump of his expansive wings, never to be heard from again.
Well, here I am in my early recovery and over the last year, I have seen many Blue Herons which is actually quite rare. They speak to me like no other animal can. They are a constant reminder of my ex’s recovery and the sheer strength, grace and humility it took to get to the point he is at now. If that man can make it, so can I. I truly believe I met him for this reason.
These big blue birds mean everything to me now and I rejoice in seeing them fly across my paths. I have seen them on the banks of the Brandywine, I have seen them soar and navigate their wings through the river’s carved out paths, and I have seen them fly across roads from one marsh to another. Every time it is the same reminder. I can do this. I can soar with grace in solitude.
I saw another one this afternoon on my ride home from Therapy. It was an emotionally charged meeting and I allowed myself the chance to finally speak what was on my mind and it felt very cathartic. I was driving home with a few less burdens on my heart and I saw him out of the corner of my eye…The Blue Heron, reminding me I was evolving, I was on the right path and that I was not alone. It was almost as if to say he was showing himself because he had steadfast faith in my new journey ahead, just as the bird had done for my Ex.
Every time I see one, I think of that day on the river and fondly remember the moment my life changed forever. I am grateful to have met that man. I am grateful to have heard all his elusive stories of strength, perseverance, and determination … against all odds. I would not be where I am today if he hadn’t broken me down and built me back up, and then broken me back down again. I wouldn’t be here today without that understanding of who I am. I wouldn’t know the meaning of strength without that experience.
It’s symbolic that I never saw the Blue Heron for the last 12 years of my life. Until now, when I need a reminder most. It’s funny how that works.
THE BLUE HERON TOTEM
“According to North American Native tradition, the Blue Heron brings messages of self-determination and self-reliance. They represent an ability to progress and evolve. The long thin legs of the heron reflect that an individual doesn’t need great massive pillars to remain stable, but must be able to stand on one’s own.
Blue Herons have the innate wisdom of being able to manoeuvre through life and co-create their own circumstances. Blue Herons reflect a need for those with this totem to follow their on unique wisdom and path of self-determination. These individuals know what is best for themselves and need to follow their hearts rather than the promptings of others. Those with the Medicine of the Great Blue Heron may sit until the rest of us loose patience. And, when they follow the promptings of the heart, they are one of the most magnificent when they choose to soar (T.Andrews, Animal Speak).”