I enjoy the retrospect of my youth. It was a time for innocent exploration of my surrounding world. Luckily, I lived near to a region of undeveloped land. Within this paradise was included a creek that ran for miles, a large pond, hills, slopes and numerous trails. Abundant wildlife frolicked about this sphere with rabbits, squirrel, coyote, deer, grouse and many other wonderful creatures. The sphere of wilderness holds many blessings for all to witness.
Though the beauty of this sphere can be witnessed by all, so can its raw brutal nature be seen. In my experiences, I generally only sought to explore the wilds. In my youth I rarely took of the spoils, instead I only brought home the eloquent pictures the wilderness painted for me; the sweet memories of innocence.
I could explore for hours on end, days if my parents would allow it. I am thankful that I spent so much of my youth outside among the elements, enticed by the beauty of the natural world. It taught me many lessons and sang many songs that I still remember today.
One hard and painful lesson that I learned back then was that of respect; the respect for all life. One warm day a friend of mine and I decided to go out exploring, only this time we brought with us our trusty pellet rifles. An act of boyish innocence at first soon turned into a valuable lesson that I still remember as though it were yesterday.
Along our trail, my cohort spotted a blue-jay perched on a tree branch suspended over the creek. He then took aim and shot the bird, only it wasn’t a direct hit and the bird flopped to the ground. The poor, colorful blue-jay tried desperately to fly. His wing was damaged and he ran, hurriedly across the ground next to the creek in a frantic manner only in attempt to find safety.
Once more my friend shot at the bird, but missing again, though striking it low on the belly and flipping the creature over. The bird then tried to regain his ground, though this time much more injured. He hobbled along the creek at the waters edge, falling every step and barely able to move.
At the point of witnessing this act of pure cruelty, I begged my friend to shoot the bird in the head and end his suffering. But as I looked at him, my childhood friend had tears streaming down his face, and could not bring himself to shoot the bird again.
I stepped through the creek and stood over the dying blue-jay. Blood was streaming from his wounds into the water as his good wing flapped helplessly, spinning him around in a chaotic manner. His chirp was that of pure pain. I placed my rifle against his head and fired the mercy shot; ending suffering and life. My friend looked on in horror, and then smashed his rifle against a nearby tree.
That day the sorrowful song of pain and suffering rang clear for me. What started as a beautiful day turned dim and grey. I learned that all life matters, and haplessly toying with it is not respectful, nor does it nurture the spirit. This makes the soul cry. Others would say “its just a bird.” To my friend and I it was a life; a lesson of respect.
In the sphere of wilderness we find all the qualities of thoughtfulness and beauty, though we must seek them out and be mindful. Our actions do hold balance here. Life is a gift, never take it for granted.