This I Believe

Brian - Lake Worth, Florida
Entered on October 9, 2006

Life lessons are typically happy little sayings that are meant to enlighten one’s soul and help them see the world in a positive and hopeful light – but not this one. You can argue all you want that we should all join hands and help those who are less fortunate, but you yourself are a living testament to a very different point of view. No, I learned very early on that it’s the strong, not the weak, that survive.

I was about six or seven when I started to really open my eyes and see past all of the fluff imposed upon me by my teachers, parents, and peers. There was one point in particular that was sort of a turning point in my life, a moment in which I took my first steps into grim reality.

It was a typical hot-as-hell day in South Florida, and like most children I had dragged my father to the park after lunch. I remember leaving him on the bench while I made my way to the swing set. Once I reached the bars, I looked past all of the pine trees to a lone palm by the fence. Crouched on one of its long, slender fronds was a mocking bird – I had never even noticed the little finch hopping about down below. Just as I sat down, everything happened at once. The mocking bird launched itself forward and dived down to the finch, catching it right as it tried to take off. The mockingbird dug into the finch’s neck with his beak and scattered feathers as well as a few flicks of blood into the air; I had never seen something so violent in real life before. The brunt of the impact threw them both to the grass and the finch let out a quick, high-pitched scream. They scuffled around for a few seconds, with the mockingbird making guttural squawks as it continued its assault. I sat transfixed on the struggle, unable to say or do anything but grip the rusty swing chains hard in my hands. Then, abruptly as it all happened, the mockingbird lifted up off the ground and returned to its tree, leaving the finch in a crumpled mess.

I was too afraid to see if the finch was still alive, but when the only movement came from its loose feathers, I came to my own conclusion. Such brutal lessons can only be learned through personal experience; television, books, and stories just don’t touch you as deep. The weak will always die and the strong will always remain, this I believe – be the mockingbird and not the finch.