We owe it all to the seagulls in our lives.

Flock_of_Seagulls_(eschipul)

I RECEIVED AN EMAIL not long ago about an odd, eccentric, little old man. I love odd, eccentric, little old men. I hope to be one someday, and some people say I already am.

This odd, eccentric, little old man could be seen wandering down to the beach every Friday afternoon when the day was considering darkness, and a big old sun was hanging the color of a tangerine just above the waterline.

He always had a bucket of shrimp. And a smile touched his face. The sunbathers had left with the shadows, the beachcombers had kicked their last shell, and the odd, eccentric, little old man stood barefoot in the tides alone.

He was waiting for the seagulls. He never had to wait very long.

They were waiting for him. And here they would come low across the whitecaps, birds in the wind, their wings flapping wildly, their high-pitched screeches growing higher and more pitched by the moment.

One by one, he tossed them the shrimp.

And if you walked by, and if you were close enough, you could hear him whispering a solemn thank you. It came straight from the heart.

In no time at all, the bucket was empty. The seagulls were gone.

And the odd, eccentric, little old man stood alone again.

Most who glanced his way looked past him and through him as though he did not exist, as though he wasn’t really there, an invisible man the beach, waving hello to the gulls and goodbye again, and smiling as he watched them vanish into the mist.

They shouldn’t have.

Eddie Rickenbacker
Eddie Rickenbacker

Eddie Rickenbacker was a name the greatest generation from World War I would never forget, a name the newer generations did not know, a name associated with a war that, to them, was ancient history.

He was a pilot, an ace they called him, a legend. Rickenbacker flew three hundred combat hours, more than any other American Pilot in the war, scored twenty-six verified victories in aerial battles, received the French Croix de Guerre, and the Medal of Honor.

Eddie Rickenbacker and his seven-member crew were on a star-crossed mission high above the Pacific when his plane went down, lost at sea. He and his men crawled out onto a life raft and spent days fighting the rough waters and even rougher elements.

The sun baked them. Sharks circled them. On the eighth day, their rations were gone. No food. No water. No hope. The men did not give up. Eddie Rickenbacker would not let them quit. They could have been hundreds of miles from shore or only a few miles. No one knew. They kept the faith. Few expected to survive.

Rickenbacker gave a small devotional. Not from a Bible. From memory. The men prayed. They tried to sleep. The sun had been blinding. Their wrinkled skin was cracking. The day was ending.

And the sea gull came. It was meager, but it was food. Raw, perhaps, but food. It was a miracle. The men used the gull’s intestines for bait and caught fish, which gave them more food and more bait. One day gave away to another, and one day caught sight of land. It wasn’t home It was near enough. It was life.

The years passed, and Eddie Rickenbacker never forgot that afternoon. He owed his life to a seagull.

On Fridays, he came religiously down to the beach with a bucket of shrimp. The missions were decades behind him. He was no longer remembered as a hero or a legend. He was just an odd, eccentric, little old man who took time for as long as he lived to gaze once more upon the seagulls and whisper his thanks.

So it is with life. So it is with us who write and publish and market and work hard to develop, against all odds, the next breakthrough novel. Every day, there are those out there in an odd and eccentric digital world who choose to help us.

They review our books

They blog about our books.

They tweet about our books.

They re-tweet about our books.

We know their names. We recognized their faces.

We will probably never meet.

But, from time to time, in the midst of a day that never gives us enough time to finish what we start or start fresh and anew, we need to pause and tell them thank you.

We’re all in this eBook revolution together.

No one is alone.

Thanks to all of you who have helped me. Just let me know what I can do to help you. Storytellers are an odd and eccentric bunch, and if we don’t stick together, who else in the world will want us?

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  • jack43

    I have never before heard any rationale for admiring the winged rats that have plagued our shores. The only story that accurately portrayed them was Walt Disney’s animated feature “Finding Nemo” in which the gulls were greedy, grasping creatures. Who would suspect that one would sacrifice itself for the survival of men? Not me. Thanks for the story, but don’t expect me to go feed them. The one and only time I tried, they repaid me with an “unkindness” (a rather messy one)

    • Caleb Pirtle

      I don’t think the seagull came to sacrifice himself for the survival of men. He came to stain them all. But it’s a good story for those who have never fought with seagulls.

      • Magee Been Banned

        Stop casting your bait so high in the air.

    • Magee Been Banned

      Getting crapped on by a seagull is actually considered good luck. Winged rats…lol. We aren’t talking about pigeons.

  • That’s gratitude for you – I’m sure it gave him great pleasure, and kept his memories fresh. Thanks for the story.

    Seagulls are neither self-sacrificing nor greedy: they are doing what we all do, trying to survive. In a world where the shorelines are increasingly full of dangerous plastic garbage, and the seas are so polluted you are warned not to go in, the seagulls manage to perpetuate their species.

    And they get to fly.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Nothing can survive under tough conditions like the seagull. They irritate a lot of folks, but they also bring delight to many who watch their flights.

    • Magee Been Banned

      FYI: A seagulls favorite place is the garbage dump. Next time you visit Florida and want to see seagulls, look up Waste Management.

  • Darlene Jones

    Beautiful — no other word for it.

    • Caleb Pirtle

      Thanks, Darlene.

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