The wise old stork, who liked to travel to the coast some days was balanced on the top of a long television ariel in the town of San Fernando, admiring the full moon on the horizon, coloured peach and flamingo blush, as it rose over the marshes.
Across the town, he saw, in one of the many blocks of flats, a light on at one of the windows where a young boy was sitting at his desk. He could see the boy was studying. He could see the boy was tired and fed up.
The stork stretched his wings and looked back out at the horizon again. He watched as the moon grew from light pink to feint cream to a glowing macaroon as surrounded by a thousand changing shades of blue that draped across the town, dusk fell deeper into the night.
The stork knew how the boy was feeling. He knew that he would be filled with self doubt, anxiety and confusion but he also knew that as long as the boy toiled then from this turmoil he would grow and illuminate the world, much like the moon had that evening.
The boy would learn this over time.
With autumn came the rain and a change in the skies and a closing of windows. After a long summer the town now had a colder, rougher edge to it and the streets became deserted and lonely. Above the town the wise old stork circled and soared the celestial sphere, instinctively catching the air thermals, flying higher and higher still, admiring the fresh and beautiful views below like every other day. He no longer flew south for winter like expected but stayed where he was. You cannot change the seasons but you can change your ways.
The Right Move
The wise old stork was stood on top of a bell tower as he looked around watching the swifts frantic in the sky. Below them, on a roof terrace, an old man, who was smoking a cigarette, was sat looking at a chess board. He occasionally looked up at the stork and the stork looked back at him. Down on the street cars wound slowly over the cobbles cutting through the sweltering silence of Jerez in the afternoon.
The Stork looked on as a swift flew close by and shouted hello.
‘Hello’ replied the stork.
‘What’s your hurry?’ He continued, as its short forked tail whizzed by his head.
‘I love doing things quickly.’ it replied. ‘I have to be especially quick now as a someone keeps removing my nest and I keep having to rebuild it.’
The Stork, a little bemused by the swifts comments, looked over at the old man on the terrace who was staring with intent at his chessboard and making careful notes in a notebook.
When the Swift returned the stork told him to stop and hover for a moment.
‘Listen. You see the old man playing chess?’ asked the stork.
‘Yes.’ replied the swift.
‘Sometimes in life, as in chess, you need to take a step back.’
‘In order that you can take two steps forward.’
‘I don’t follow.’ the Swift said bemused.
‘You’re fighting a losing battle, and exhausting yourself at the same time because your nest keeps being taken but as the chess player will tell you, you can’t keep doing the same move and expect to win.’
‘So what should I do?’
‘Now you have taken a step back by stopping to think about it, you can take two steps forward. How can you stop your nest being taken?’
‘I should move it.’ the swift said, the realisation slowly dawning.
‘Exactly.’ said the Stork. ‘Your problem seemed complicated but so often the answers, simple. Especially when you take a step back. Now go and build somewhere out of reach!’
‘I will!’ said the swift turning upwards into the sky with fresh vision.
It was May and unseasonably high temperatures hung over Andalusia as the wise old stork flew over the annual town fair. He could smell the frying peppers and sizzling meats and see the horses elegantly moving across the sands and through the riots of flamenco dress and Sevillanas music.
He flew on to the town centre, in search of some peace. He was feeling low and a bit under the weather and settled up on a roof where it was peaceful though hot as the unwelcome winds were blowing in from Africa.
The stork had a lost a good friend in the last few days and contemplated him as he watched the purple-blue blossom of the Jacaranda trees, that lined one of the streets, twirl downwards one after the other to the pavements, the road and onto the heads and drinks of the few people sitting at a cafe.
Although he felt down, the stork was aware things would change. Like the wind and the temperatures change and the blossom falls and the seasons move on, nothing is final and it wouldn’t be long before his spirits were lifted once again.
The Thief of Joy
The stork was perched on a church spire watching an Easter procession pass by below. The sunshine was warm, the air carried the smell of incense and every now and then the ground shook with the pounding of drums and the sounds of trumpets wailed upwards towards the blue sky.
The stork sat meditating, accommodating all the noise until it was interrupted by a seagull landing on the other spire of the church. They both stood looking at each other for a moment. The seagull looked envious.
“Are you ok?” inquired the stork.
“Not really.” replied the seagull.
“What’s the matter?”
“I am unhappy with the way I am.”
“Nonsense.” said the stork. “What do you mean?”
“Well, look at your wings for a start. They are bigger than mine and so much more elegant when you stretch them out wide.”
“You should be glad you have wings at all!” exclaimed the stork.
“Also your legs are longer.” the seagull continued. “It must be so much better being taller than other birds.”
“Yes, but sometimes my legs are awkward and a burden. Sometimes I wish they were shorter so I could get into smaller spaces, but I don’t let it bother me.”
The seagull ignored him and carried on talking.
“Another thing is the homes you build. They are so much grander than mine.”
“Yes but they are precarious and often blow about in the wind.” replied the stork beginning to tire of the seagull. “I’d love to have a smaller home like yours but I am happy with what Ive got.”
The seagull fell silent.
“It seems to me we have the same things.” said the stork. “The reason you are envious, or unhappy as you say, is because you are comparing us. Comparison is the thief of joy.” the stork said boldly. “By comparing your life with me or other birds you become less happy. You must stop wishing you had my wings, or my house and start being happy with what you have.”
With that thought in mind the seagull felt much lighter inside. It smiled at the stork and acknowledged its words. The seagull flew off over the streets, over the golden trail of the Easter procession and feeling grateful for all it had, travelled homewards to the sparkling blue seas of Cádiz bay.
It was mostly sunny, with a cool breeze, as the wise old stork and his friend flew over the empty streets of the town.
“Are you counting something?” asked the wise old stork.
“Yes.” replied his friend
“What are you counting?”
“The days until spring arrives.”
“Why? May I ask?”
“I’m happier in spring, because it’s warmer.”
“How many days are there to go then?”
“38, I think.”
“So what of the next 38 days? Are you just going to count them away?
“That’s sad.” said the wise old stork. “You shouldn’t count the days you should make the days count! You only live once.”
They flew on in silence, circling higher and higher into the sky.
The stork stopped counting and thinking about spring and felt much better as he looked down at the town below that now looked more beautiful than it ever had done.