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Blog by Alan Seale, May 2, 2022 |   Ordinary Life

Sometimes life interrupts our plans. While those interruptions occasionally come in the form of unexpected life events that change everything, for now I’m speaking about little unexpected flashes of awareness. Something you suddenly see or hear; a memory or thought that seems to come out of nowhere. Flashes of awareness that interrupt whatever you are busy doing. Sometimes, they feel like unwelcome distractions. Yet other times, there is something magical about the moment. Time stops, your heart takes over, and you realize that you are powerless to resist.   

A few days ago, I knew as I set out for my morning walk that I had just enough time to follow my usual path before starting a full day of writing and appointments. I was walking at my usual brisk pace, taking in the beauty of nature all around me, even as my mind was already pulling me into my working day. 

Great Blue Heron on Chautauqua Lake

About ten minutes into my walk, I passed one of the two ponds in my tiny rural community. And that’s when it happened. Out of the corner of my eye, I glimpsed a great blue heron standing like a statue in the edge of the water. While I often see herons flying overhead in the warmer months, only once before had I seen one at our pond. Herons are mystical creatures; they look almost prehistoric in flight. Their appearance often feels to me like an invitation—that there is something I need to pay attention to.  

The short poem below tells the story of that moment and the message I needed to hear that morning. Perhaps there is an invitation for you, as well.

When Your Heart Takes Over
by Alan Seale

Life sometimes stops me in my tracks. 
I’m going about my own business, 
I’m focused on my own agenda, when suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, something 

captures my attention. 

This time, it’s a great blue heron 
standing perfectly still in the edge of the pond.
I pause to watch him just for a moment, and 
then I start to move on. 
Because I am, after all, going about my business. 

Except that I don’t move on. 
The great blue heron won’t let go of me.

So, I let myself linger just a bit longer. 
And then my “business” tugs at me to 
continue on my path. 

I turn my body to walk away, yet 
once again, my feet won’t seem to move. 
This time, my heart won’t let them.  
In this moment, my heart 
doesn’t seem to care about my agenda.
Right now,  my heart has its own agenda. 
It wants to be fed.

So, I linger a little longer. 

And then even longer.

And then my heart says: 
Why don’t you sit for a while? 
Put down your agenda. 
Your “business” will wait. 
Here is beauty. 
Here is stillness. 
It’s what you’ve been longing for

And so, I sit. 
My heart takes over; 
the call of my “business” somehow loses its power. 
I’m watching it happen. 
It’s like my heart is seducing my head

How can my heart be so convincing? 
How is it that I give in so easily? 

Maybe, just maybe, 
it’s because right now, 
this moment with the heron
is what really matters.