We owe it all to the seagulls in our lives.
January 18, 2015
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 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?