Kathy (my wife) and I are fortunate enough to live in an amazing part of the world. The province of British Columbia, in particular the West Coast region of the Province is an area where land meets ocean, rivers run deep and mountains reach high into the sky. On any particular day a person can be sailing, scuba diving, skiing, sightseeing, golfing, or hiking. The natural varietal beauty of the area is amazing in itself – but the climate and region also provide for an amazing and abundant variety of wildlife habitat as well to appreciate and enjoy.
About halfway between Vancouver British Columbia and the mountain resort community of Whistler is a little hamlet called Brackendale. If you're driving Highway 99 and blink, you'll miss the turnoff to this magnificent little part of our province.
Why magnificent you ask?
Well – Brackendale is home to the grandfather of all eagle festivals.
Outside of the United States, there are more eagles found in this part of the world than anywhere else. In 1994, an all-time record of more than 3,700 eagles were counted along the Cheakamus and Mamquam rivers. While the count of eagles has reduced over the past few years, it is still a thrill to spot these majestic birds.
Many of you may not know this but the eagle has the longest lifespan among birds. It can live up to 70 years. To reach this age however, the eagle must make some hard choices.
In its 40s, the eagle's long and flexible talons can no longer grab the prey that serves as its food. Its long, sharp beak becomes so curved that it hinders the eagle from eating. Its feathers becoming aged, frazzled and heavy, and stick to its chest when it tries to fly. It is during this time of it’s life that the eagle is left with only two options: die or go through a painful process of change that lasts 150 days and results in an extended, productive life.
The process I am speaking of requires the eagle fly to a mountaintop and sit on its nest. There the eagle knocks its beak against a rock until its beak falls out. With it’s beak broken off the eagle waits several weeks for a new one to grow back. In time the beak regrows and at that point the eagle uses it to pluck out its curved and long talons. This, as you can imagine, is a painful process of pecking and pulling until the talons are ripped from the eagles feet. Again the eagle waits for several weeks until its new talons grow back. While it waits for it’s talons to regrow the eagle plucks out its aged feathers and new, fresh, firm feathers replace them. After five months, the eagle takes its famous flight of rebirth and has the ability to fly, capture prey and eat. Typically the revived eagle can live for another 30 more years.
In my book Man Shoes I tell the story of how my foster father – Mr. Watson told me at an early age that if I was going to be successful I would need to make changes in my life… and to do that I need to make better choices. His lesson to me was that My Choice + My Actions = My Life.
Why is change needed?
Many times, in order to survive and prosper we have to start a change process for ourselves. All too often, we, as humans don’t like change – we don’t like to admit that maybe some of our habits – some of our choices – some of our shortcomings can be changed. The fact is that to be successful long term we need to get rid of old memories, habits, ways of thinking and even friends or associates that are holding us back from the changes we need to achieve to be successful. It’s only when we are freed from past burdens, that we can take advantage of the present and live fulfilled lives in the future.
So the question I have for you today is – what changes do you need to implement in your life – what transformations need to occur for you so that you can achieve and live your best life? Are there people, thoughts, insecurities or other things that hold you back from your best you? If there are – think about the eagles I have just told you about and remember Your Choice + Your Actions = Your Life. I have never bought into the idea that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. All of us can continue to grow and change ourselves and our perspectives to live more successful lives.
A note of fact...when it rains, most birds head for shelter; the eagle on the other hand is the only bird known to mankind that, in order to avoid the rain, starts flying above the clouds. If you want to soar high above the clouds like an eagle… transformation is your road to success.
An amazing tidbit about the eagle's eyesight: The eagle can identify a rabbit moving almost a kilometer away. That means that an eagle flying at an altitude of 300 meters over open country could spot prey over an area of almost two square kilometers from a fixed position. A healthy eagle who can fly high, snatch prey from the ground over a larger area is much more likely to be successful than an eagle who is not willing to go through the transformation needed to remove it’s old beak, talons, and feathers.
Honestly transforming ourselves allows us to spread our wings and soar like eagles.
All the very best!