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Monday, March 6, 2017

Trust Factor

If you’re like me, you’ve probably developed friendships over the years that have enriched your life and brought you a significant amount of happiness. However, if you’re like me, you’ve probably also had some of those friends betray your friendship and break your trust. It’s so sad when it happens because relationships are built on trust, and when that trust is broken, it can be devastating and confusing. I guess if we chose to never trust anyone, then we wouldn’t have to worry about it. But then again, life sure would be lonely. So it’s a tough question. One that was brought to my attention recently by a wounded sea duck.

My wife and I got home early last Thursday and decided to sit out on our beach and enjoy the sunset. As we were talking, my wife suddenly bolted upright in her chair and asked me, “What the heck is that?” I turned towards the ocean and immediately saw a large red-billed Cormorant (sea duck) that had climbed up to our elevated beach area and was parading slowly by in front of us, only a few feet away. It was the weirdest thing because birds are always so skittish of people. But this brave duck purposely climbed up a steep embankment of sand just so he could walk by in front of us. Then I noticed it. He had a length of fishing line caught in his wing with weights hanging from it. The other end was stuck in his belly preventing him from moving his wing and obviously making it impossible to fly.

The Cormorant kept walking and when a neighbor’s dog barked he scrambled down closer to the water. My wife suggested calling animal control for help, but the first problem would be to catch him. So with my brilliant mind I decided to get a sheet out of our linen closet and go after him, hoping to throw it over him like a net. I chased that fellow for over a mile, but every time I got close, he ran into the water. At one point, I dropped my shoes and phone on the sand and went wading in after him. He dove under the water for about a minute and I couldn’t find him… until suddenly he popped up right between my legs! It scared the crap out of both of us. I was so startled I failed to throw the sheet at him and the wounded duck scrambled even farther out into the water. I eventually gave up trying to help him because it was obvious he was never going to trust me enough to get close to him. I felt so sorry for him because I knew I could cut the fishing line in a few seconds and free him, but his natural instincts and lack of trust kept him away.

Maybe human beings and animals are not that different after all. Maybe we both have a natural instinct to distrust each other as a means of self-preservation, but it shouldn’t be that way. The only way we are ever going to find happiness and love is to embrace the trust factor… and truly go for it. I know that wounded red-billed sea duck has probably passed away by now, but he left an indelible impression on me. He reminded me that we are never so vulnerable as when we trust someone, but paradoxically, if don’t allow ourselves to trust, then we will never find love or happiness.

The best way to find out if you can trust somebody… is to trust them.
    ~ Ernest Hemingway 

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