NOTE: I try hard to not ask you for things.
That’s not how I want this relationship to work.
But today, I must.
Because someone who matters to me asked for my help. And only you can make it possible.
You can skip the storytelling and contribute to something deserving and meaningful.
Or you can learn why I care. Because context matters.
We’d haul buckets full of water and live fish to the barn where my grandfather had built a fish-cleaning station.
There, I’d watch him club the heads of fish to kill them before I’d help him descale and filet them. Later, we’d have a fish fry.
The meals were delicious. The process was routine if I was fishing with grandpa. I didn’t think or feel much about it at all. It was just the way we did things.
My third-grade son and I recently started fishing together. I’m not sure what took me so long.
I asked him the question: “When we catch fish, do you want to keep and eat them, or release them back into the lake?”
He insta-answered: “I want to put them back.”
I was glad. Because I didn’t want to club fish heads.
I don’t judge people who fish for food. And I promise I’ll fish for food any time a food shortage or survival situation calls for it. But so long as I have access to a nice seafood counter at my local market, I’m cool with not intentionally killing fish myself.
I didn’t think about things like that when I was in third grade.
But my little boy does.
Years ago, so did another boy growing up in Minnesota. When he was in third grade, a representative of a raptor (birds of prey, not dinosaurs!) educational outreach program visited his school.
The speaker invited the boy to approach the live eagle perched on their arm.
It was Scott’s first close encounter with a raptor.
And it changed him forever.
The Subtle Art of Achieving Balance
One of my dearest childhood friends went through divorce about a year after me.
My divorce was the worst thing that ever happened to me.
Her divorce was maybe the fourth- or fifth-worst thing to happen to her, because she has survived Life Things that destroy people, leaving most of us in perpetual states of identity crisis and disrepair.
When we take enough damage, breathing and moving ceases to mean we’re alive.
My friend knew she wasn’t really alive anymore. Sometimes, we just break.
I’ve been broken.
In her search for balance, she enrolled in a program designed to help people achieve the kind of Mind, Body and Spirit balance that allows humans to thrive.
The process has been transformative.
I see and hear the changes in the things she writes and says.
The final step in her journey was to team with others as part of her leadership training to create something meaningful by enlisting the help of at least 100 people.
She joined 16 others to form the team who would choose Children and Environment as focal points for their final project.
Scott, the third grader from Minnesota who turned his eagle encounter into a lifelong passion for learning about and protecting birds of prey into his adulthood, just happened to be part of her team.
It Means: ‘To Seize’
The word Raptor—that is the classification of large birds of prey which includes eagles, falcons, hawks, osprey, owls, etc.—is derived from the Latin word Rapere, which means “to seize” or “to take by force.”
I see my friend taking her life back. Seizing moments. It’s a big deal.
And in Charlotte, N.C., she serendipitously met 16 like-minded souls willing to unite and work for something that mattered.
They’re going to build—with their hands—a large outdoor playground on the grounds of the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, N.C., just north of Charlotte.
Something lasting. Something for children. Something that serves the big-picture mission of ecological balance most of us rarely pause to think about. (Here’s an entry-level primer on how raptors help balance ecosystems.)
They are raising money to pay for the raw materials, hardware, and tools needed to complete the project.
Maybe you care about raptor conservation. Maybe you care about children. Maybe you’d like to do me a personal favor.
Maybe you just like helping people. I hope so.
I didn’t need a reason other than someone who was fundamental to my character development, who has always been there for me, and who I have NEVER seen on the wrong side of a kindness argument say: “Can I please ask you for a favor?”
I should have known it wouldn’t be about her.
Help My Friend, Children, and Life Flourish
Please show others what’s possible by making the Carolina Raptor Center Playground a reality. No amount is too small.