In recent months, I have been fascinated with the mother eagle, particularly on how she cares for her young. Several times I found myself asking, how is a young eaglet taught to fly? At what stage in life do they start learning how to use their wings and eventually maximize them? At what point does the mother eagle decide that it is time to let go? I believe a series of events prompted these questions– Lately, I’ve been thinking about my son. I’ve been imagining what his childhood, adolescence, and adult years will be like and this short story was created in dedication to him.
The Fledge Method
When I was just a seed, mother prepared the nest for me. She worked diligently to find the sturdiest of branches. Gliding through the winds to build the nest that would one day house me. I was her priority, her joy, her heartbeat.
Then I was born. I was white, frail, and extremely needy. Mother nursed me; in her wings, I was comforted and warm. We delighted in each other. For me, life was mother, and somehow, mother was me. I saw the world through her eyes. I understood in part by what she seen.
One day mother started acting strangely. She flew out of the nest with a look of determination in her eyes. My eyes followed her as she soared high through the winds. That is all I could do, after all, life was mother and mother was me. But something about that day, made a chill go up my spine. Before mother left the nest, she kept repeating one thing,“The time to fledge has come.”
Fledge, the one word that kept imprinting itself in my mind. Curiosity was starting to overtake me, so I stood at the edge of the nest protected by its borders, awaiting mother. I thought maybe she just went out to get me food. Surely she will come back soon. The sun relentlessly beat against me; slowly hours turned into days, no sign of mother or the sound of her voice making way in the wind.
The fourth day I decided to peer at the edge of the nest. My feeble legs somehow lifted me to the peak. Then a blustery breeze overtook my balance. I was falling out fast, uncontrollably with no awareness as to where I would end up. Swoosh was the sound of the wind, and I found myself laying on mother’s back. “Mother you saved me!” I beamed with contentment and joy. But all mother said was, “The time to fledge has come.”
“Mother?” I asked nervously. “What does that mean…fledge?” Her only words, “The time to fledge has come.” Mother’s wings guided us back to the nest. However, the nest that once housed me was destroyed. “Mother, what happened to our home?” Her only words, “The time to fledge has come.” “Mother, I don’t understand what does that mean? Why do you keep saying that? You’re scaring me.” She looked at me with her potent eyes and began to hover over me.
It was at that moment; I begin to be entranced by her wings. They were dazzling. It was like they were singing a song to the wind. Mother said nothing. She just simply fluttered her wings above me. I was transfixed at all that was happening. Suddenly I had this urge to stretch. As I started to extend my feathers, Mother’s flutters became faster. Her eyes glued to me and my–feathers. My feathers. I was mother and mother was me, so I began to flap them.
Mother rose higher. In the still air, she watched me intensely as I started flapping uncontrollably. Then slowly but surely, the wind lifted me. I had the look of terror in my eyes. I’m almost certain of it. Yet, I felt carried by something bigger than me. I looked away from mother, and through the distance, I noticed others; other eaglets that were taking their first flight away from the nest.
My eyes zoned in on them. Until I finally heard mother say, “It is done. The fledge method is complete.” On that day, I learned, I was no longer mother and mother was no longer me. She was my first foundation and will always be the steady force behind who I am. But she is her own entity, and the same goes for me. Her wings were taught how to mount through the dangerous of winds courageously; so that one day, she, in turn, can teach me. She destroyed the nest for me to understand life in its wildest, windswept form.
Now that I am older, I later learned more about that day when my mother glided through the winds and just left me with the words, “The time to fledge has come.” She flew to the peak of the highest mountain to watch me and what I would do. She recaptures her side of the story with only a few words, “A mother learns early on in life the art of waiting on her young.” I asked mother, “What made you decide that it was time to let go?” She simply responded, “It was time.”
So, as I prepare for my son, I imagine his life through stages. When he is first born, I will be like the mother eagle caring intently for her young. In my son’s young eyes, he will be like his mother, and I will reflect him. But he will someday grow to become a man, and I must be prepared to release him to the winds. I will someday have to recognize when the time to fledge has come. In that realization, I pray throughout his upbringing, his father and I will help him to see himself as his own entity. I hope at an early age he comprehends the power of his wings.
Because, son, if years later you find yourself reading this short story, mama and papa always knew the weighted significance of time and you, son, was created to soar high.
-The Fledge Method-
Wednesday, August 30th, 2017