He wondered aloud whether we are born with certain characteristics, and whether we should surrender to them or strive to overcome our weaknesses.
I tend to be the kind of person who makes the best of things, whether it’s a job, a relationship, or my personality quirks. I don’t like to focus on my weaknesses, or the weaknesses of others. I try to encourage people to excel at what they are good at.
My friend argued that perhaps we should strive to be better at the things we aren’t good at, work harder at the things that don’t come naturally, and overcome our shortcomings.
While I do strive to improve on areas in my life that could use some work, I really believe we are all blessed with different gifts, talents, and abilities. I like to run, but I’m not very fast, so I’m not going to kill myself trying to be an Olympian. I do try to overcome my innate desire to curl up with a book by interspersing small bursts of activity into my reading time. I’m not much of a cleaner, so I exert great effort in maintaining a presentable abode. But I love to work in my garden and I could do it for hours.
This is the reason fish don’t fly.
We all have things we are good at. Fish are good at swimming. Flying? Not so much. If fish worked hard all day to fly, they would end up exhausted and frustrated. A few might get airborne, but they would be the exception rather than the rule.
We are like fish, trying to fly. We exhaust ourselves trying to force ourselves to complete tasks we hate because we think we should. Rather than try to force yourself to do something you aren’t good at, embrace those talents and gifts you have, and practice them with wild abandon. Birds fly! They love it. They soar high in the air, letting the wind carry them hither and yon. Birds don’t worry about the fish. They don’t worry about swimming, unless they want to. They execute their flight with vigor and enthusiasm. So too, we ought embrace our gifts. Rather than straining and struggling to do things that don’t suit you, discover those things that bring you joy and fulfillment. Do those things. We are here for such a short time. What is the point is trudging through life, dreading the morning. We could dance and sing our way through each day, energized by the things we love.
Of course, the house must still be cleaned. And I will clean it. But I will not let that ruin my day. I will clean it to suit myself, and then I will play in the garden. I will read and write, and sing. Those are the things that make me happy. Dishes must be done, but I don’t have to spend my life washing them. Clothes must be folded. Books must be balanced. The mundane tasks wait for attention. But what I find mundane, others derive great pleasure from doing. Some people clean houses because they like it. For all the tasks, there are people well suited to them, who enjoy the work they do.
Today, I encourage each one of you to find those things that make your heart sing. Look for the things that bring you joy and leave you feeling energized, rather than drained. If you can’t do it for a job, then do it for a moment. Our lives mustn’t be consumed by drudgery. There is fun to be had, if you know where to look.
Fish don’t fly, because their fun is in the water. Discover where your hope lies, then do things to bring you a step closer to that today. A small step, followed by another and another will lead you to the path of your greatest joy and heart’s desire.
You are a bird, so fly high!