to a young graduate
The young osprey loved his nest. When the wind was cold, he could nestle up against his siblings, his father brought fish every day for his mother to feed them all, and his father and mother kept all intruders away. He was warm, well-fed, loved and safe. What more could a little bird want?
The little birds grew. They learned to feed themselves from the fish their father brought. They developed wings and began to flap them. Soon the nest was very crowded. The chick developed feathers. This made him itch but he loved flapping his wings and pretending to fly. One day his wings lifted him off from the nest and he hovered for a few seconds. He was excited. Soon he would be able to fly. Then he could go wherever he wanted. He would not be stuck on this nest.
But wait, he asked himself. Didn’t he love this nest? Wasn’t this where he wanted to live? Well, yes, and no. He decided he would learn to fly and would leave to visit other places and make friends. But then he would always return by nighttime for his father and mother to take care of him.
But that’s not the osprey way. One day, the osprey chick was fully feathered. He was fledged and ready to leave the nest. He perched on the very edge of the nest and flapped his wings. His body lifted up into the air. This time, he used his wings to steer and flew a few feet away where he landed on the crane upon which the nest was perched. The fledgling was so proud. He was a real osprey now, ready to go out into the world.
Every day, the fledgling practiced flying short distances. His two siblings watched from the nest. They were younger and were just learning to hover. Then one day, the fledgling heard an osprey call from the North shore. He flew in that direction. There he saw other ospreys his age flying in the sky. What fun! All day, he flew with them. When he got hungry, he tried diving for a fish. But he was not successful. So he bade his new friends good-by and flew back home where he found a fish waiting for him.
The fledgling continued to meet his friends every day. Some days, he flew with his father and learned from him how to catch a fish. Then came the great day when he caught his own fish! Now he stayed away from the nest for a day or two. It was fun flying with his friends and being on his own. But there were days when his friends weren’t around and he was lonesome. Other days were cold and windy or he couldn’t find a fish and he was hungry. Then he flew back to the nest. Sometimes his parents were there; sometimes they weren’t. The other two chicks had left the nest too, so there was no reason for the parents to always be on the nest. Sometimes the osprey was so lonely, he would call and call in a loud, demanding voice. Eventually, his mother or father would come with a fish.
One day, the fledgling felt something new. A restlessness, a desire to fly, not just in the sky over his own Bay, but somewhere else. He wanted to travel, to explore, to see the world. So he spent one last night on the nest and the next day, he lifted off and headed out over the Bay. But first he circled around the land over his nest. He met his mother and she flew with him for a bit. Then he turned and headed Southwest, while she returned to the nest. He flew and flew. He didn’t really know where he was going but he knew the general direction to head. His body and brain would direct him. He flew around, first South then East then South again, stopping at night near water so he could catch a fish. Finally one day, he knew which way to go and he headed straight down the coast to his Winter home. He knew he would spend the next year and a half down there learning to be an osprey. Then he would fly back to the nest But his parents would not welcome him. He would find a mate, build a nest with her, and create a new home. For that is the osprey way.
Best wishes for you on your own journey South, learning to be a responsible, productive adult and eventually finding your own home. We look forward to hearing about your flight into manhood. And will watch for you as we watch for the ospreys. If ever in doubt, take a look at the ospreys to observe their ability to deal with whatever comes their way with aplomb and equanimity.
Do not be afraid to fly
Do not hesitate to try.
You can return to the nest
When you’re tired and need a rest.
Be sure to leave with a spring
In your step as you take wing,
Your family will all be there,
Your accomplishments to share.
The new will be challenging
As you learn to use your wings,
Be confident you will meet
Each head-on, without defeat.
You now have time to explore
To see what life has in store.
Look to see what interests you,
Stay a while or fly on through.
On your flight be bold and strong.
Though the journey may be long,
You’ll not likely go astray.
If you do, adjust your way.
So now, take the step, fledgling
Leap into the sky, take wing,
Fly high over our blue Bay
To start out on your new way.
Advice to young graduates from JM
To ask the right question is as important as to give the right answer.
Life is what we make of it, not what it makes of us.
Know your better self, then be that better self.
To train is to prepare for a job, to educate is to prepare for life.
Where there is a will there is a way, but it is not always paved.
Be inspired by truth and aided by fact.
It is always the different that makes the difference.
Better to do what one wills to do than to do what others will one to do.
A big heart and an open mind are of a kind.