During the summer of 2019, on a beautiful sunny day with not a puff of wind, I was drifting on Lough Derg kayaking. There was a plenitude of rowing boats, cruisers and sailing boats crisscrossing the bay. I must have been a half hour out from shore not too far from Scariff, Co. Clare, when I spotted this little white feather in the distance, alone, in the vastness of the lake. I slowly navigated my way towards it, absolutely in awe that this feather sat still on the top of the water and had not been interrupted or swept by passing traffic. I observed it for a while in wonder, looking around the bay, appreciating this one feathers journey, wondering its’ story moments before it landed on the water. I took a photo, drifted past it and looked back at intervals until it was finally gone from my view.
I often take photographs. When I look at this particular photo, I am brought back to the moments of seeing the feather, moving towards it, observing it with wonder, taking a photo and still being drawn back to it, even as I left it and drifted away. I wondered how it got there. I imagined a number of colourful scenarios, but that is another story. I was amazed that it had just landed so perfectly on the top of the water, it was not wet or scarred from the journey, in fact it sat so perfectly and beautiful in the vastness of unfamiliar territory. It had not been swept away or drowned by passing traffic or disrupted or ruffled by my visit. Instead, it was unyielding in its beauty, delicateness, smallness, brilliant whiteness and shape. It appeared somehow stronger and more beautiful because of where it was in the cusp of the deep unknown. It had opted to go with the “flow” of the lake rather than be swept by its vast, unknown territory. The top half of the photo shows the reflection of the vast sky above and the bottom half reflects the dark depths below. The feather sits between both worlds. Still an infant, it was never to know that its journey would in fact affect my own. This feather symbolized for me the yet unknown possibilities and significance each of us have on this planet. We may feel at times like “a drop in the ocean”. We cannot always see the rippling effect of our journey or ever know how we impact others in a lifetime.
This little feather taught me, that although I might not always know where I am going, my true identity cannot be labelled with titles, jobs, what I do in life or who I live with, but by how I choose to exist, perceive, react and interact. It taught me if I accept life’s challenges, adapt and flow with change, the unknown internal identity of my soul will reveal itself. It cannot be labelled or perhaps ever truly understood due to the infinite possibilities of a lifetime. This little feather sat on Lough Derg on a summer’s day in 2019. Its existence and identity had a significant impact on at least one individual and be shared with many more reminding us that we are full of limitless possibilities and can choose/and or change our perception of our identity multiple times throughout our journey.
© Cli Donnellan Ph.D.