Of Falcons and Frisbees

My friend Barbara reported the sad news yesterday that a young Peregrine Falcon that experts and volunteers had recently released in downtown Richmond had died during one of it's first attempts at flight. After a few minutes of successful soaring with its mother, the fledgling had crashed into a glass-walled skyscraper and died instantly. Barbara was a volunteer on the fledgling watch since it had been released last week, and had been reporting each day on the young bird's progress toward taking its first flight.

The tragic outcome of the falcon's flight is a reminder that risk is inherent in living life.

When I was in high school and college, my friends and I played a lot of Frisbee, specifically freestyle Frisbee, where you do tricks like spinning the disc on your finger and tapping it into the air with your foot, hand, elbow, head, etc.

The problem with the tapping the Frisbee was that, in cool weather, the disc became more brittle and could crack when you were tapping it. Back then, these discs were $7 or $8, a lot of money to a high school kid.

One of my friends hated to lose Frisbees to cracks - so much so that he would get new discs and, instead of throwing the Frisbee and risking a crack, he'd keep the Frisbee in the box.

At the time this didn't make sense to me, but I wasn't sure why. Now I know why, and as a matter of fact it has become something I say all the time to the point where my kids are sick of it. When Daniel or Madison asks me if they should try this or try that and what if they fail, I say, "Frisbees are for throwing. They aren't for leaving in the box."

And we're not for leaving in the box. We have to risk ourselves by engaging in life, with all of its dangers and disappointments and set-backs.

William Shedd said a ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are built for. And that's not what we're built for. Staying safe is not why we are put here, and it's not why young Peregrine Falcons are put here.

We are here to take that step, to try to fly, to soar, even if it means risking it all. When it comes to our life's calling, succeeding isn't the fulfillment of our purpose on this Earth - trying is.