Seeing relationships between things that are not connected is man's way of attempting to understand the world. This is basically what Gestalt psychology is all about. Pattern recognition in man allowed early hunters to recognize animal behavior and survive in a tough environment. This ability that all people have, has developed in a variety of strange ways. Seeing symbols is one thing that has grown out of man's attempt at patterning the world.
I don't know if all of that ties into what I am about to share, but it seems to in a broader sense. Or it could just be wishful thinking. I have, what Native Americans in the old western movies would call, a spirit guide. This is an animal that represents my connection to the universe. Sounds weird, I know. It is almost embarrassing for me to admit that I even consider this a possibility. I must be admitting it because I am putting it into words...
The first time this ever crossed my mind was shortly after I turned 21. I was driving home from college after I was informed that my mom had just lost her battle with cancer. I was screaming at God, demanding to know how he could take away someone so wonderful and leave such a terrible person like myself behind. Angry at the world, I insisted that I be given some sort of sign that my mother was ok. As I am driving down this little two lane road in the middle of nowhere, I looked up to see a hawk fly across my path.
At the time, I was pretty low, but I can't really say that I took it as anything more than a bird was flying. I am still surprised that I even remember it.
Time passed, and like they say, I healed. But life is like a roller coaster with many ups and downs. It always seemed that after that first time, whenever I was low I would see a hawk and know that everything would be alright. Of course, I expanded my "spirit guide" to encompass all large birds of prey, because when you are searching for a positive you want to grab onto as much as possible. Red-tailed hawks stretched out to include osprey, and bald eagles.
I can't really say that there is any real connection between my sightings and positive life experiences, because it is more of a feeling, not a concrete, measurable object. Just like I can't really describe the depth of my love for my wife or my children. I know it is there, because I can feel it, but defining it is pointless for someone who doesn't believe me.
All of this brings me to today. I have been upset lately, feeling the work world is all stacked up against me. Probably this is just paranoia, but it has certainly felt as real as walking into a brick wall every day. I was with my youngest son, driving back home from a birthday party for a classmate of his when I saw some movement on the side of the road. It was a red-tailed hawk, standing there devouring his prey. I had to pull the truck over into the next driveway and watch. Sammy wanted to go over to him and get a closer look, but I talked him out of it considering how close it was to the road.
Does it mean anything? To the rational world, no. Thank goodness I am rarely rational, because I have to take the hawk as a sign of hope. Life is wonderful, but don't we all need a sign every now and then that tells us tomorrow will be better? I think it is wrong to define the experience or think about what the sighting could mean for me. It is enough for me just to know that things will be better.
Friedrich Nietzsche must have been a terribly unhappy person, or he enjoyed making others unhappy with his dark thoughts about man and his emotions. I think he was wrong. Man needs hope, or at least this one man does.