The other evening I snuggled in for a movie night with my friend and my daughter. This felt more special than usual because my friend was going out of town for work the next day.

Finding it hard to pick a show that worked for the three of us, we lit up when we came across The Blue Planet, a nature documentary about the world’s oceans, something we could all agree on. We had a good time watching, snuggled under a quilt with the animal warmth of our bodies and the delight of proximity to warm us.

I find the natural world is so endlessly amazing and exhaustively creative, fascinating, brutal, familiar and yet foreign, particularly when it comes to the creatures of the watery worlds.

My attention was captured most of all by the birds living on both the water and in the air, far from land. Skimmers are at home in the open ocean. These birds live together in little groups and when they seek out food they always face the same direction. They look as if they are walking on the surface of the water (hence the name skimmer) with their wings only just opened, about to take flight. It’s a deceptive assumption.

While their feet are daintily set on the surface of the water and they lift them up and then set them back down in the water as if walking, that is not actually what they are doing. They face upwind, and their wings are outspread just enough to get a little lift, like sails. This lift supports their weight so their legs can dangle down, feet entering the surface of the water. Then they are at the perfect height to peck in and out of the water with their beaks, scooping up food.

Even though it looks like they are walking on water, the support they get is actually from the wind – an invisible force, one powerful enough to provide, with the active participation of their wings, exactly the right amount of energy.

My friend just went out of town to work for a few months, and I feel like one of those skimmers. But, I’m the skimmer that’s not shown in the video. I’m the skimmer who was going about doing her thing, zipping along the surface of the water, legs dipping in and out, picking and choosing her food, secure and comfortable in the efficiencies of how life works. Or, at least, how I think life works.

Then the wind stopped blowing, and I dropped into the water.

That’s where I’m at in the nature video of myself as the skimmer. My friend has been the wind filling my wings, the invisible force providing me with the support I need to carry on with my routines.

Now, I realize this is starting to sound dramatic, and I don’t mean for you to think that I’ve fallen flat on my face and am drowning in the water. Let’s not forget that I know how to swim, how to bob along on top of the water, and how to fly. It’s just that I’ve gotten accustomed to the beautiful feeling of being supported by a friend that likes to take care of me, and the change from almost daily connection to a long-distance friendship has highlighted how much I receive from him, and how much I appreciate that.

I quite like being able to face into the wind, open those wings and have them filled up. This change in routine has meant a week of feeling slightly unsettled, ungrounded and at loose ends. New routines will have to be established, but in the meantime, in the absence of meals, conversations and fun together, I’m appreciating the stability and the routine that came from a sense of being supported, something that had been almost invisible. I’m appreciating my friend.

As always, I’m curious – have you been rattled by a change in routine? Have you realized you were taking a source of strength and support for granted? What did you do when you discovered that?

Until next time,