by Dave Markwell 
While sitting in my truck down at my Des Moines Marina, I was writing a different column in my notebook. As I pondered important words and profound thoughts, I watched some seagulls sitting on the old, abandoned “touch-n-go” dock rail. The birds were in constant motion cleaning and preening. It was a nice distraction from my important thoughts.
While observing the scratching, digging and primping gulls do their thing, I was content. I don’t like seagulls that much and often think of them as “flying rats”, as they are rodent-like in their propensity for annoying people and eating trash. Nonetheless, they were interesting.
Proving, once again, that inspiration can strike in some strange places, the birds delivered: As the gulls on the lower rail carried on with their very deliberate cleaning efforts, another bird on the higher crossbar over the deck released a big and bold dump directly onto the back of the bird below him. (It had to be male…) I chuckled, maybe because I am male…or juvenile…or both.
Either way…I wondered how the “victim” in the “assault” felt about this incident. During the few minutes I was watching these birds, I noticed that they were very intent about their cleaning. It seemed like their life’s work. Having an overhead colleague suddenly destroy all that hard work would be a little frustrating, I suspect. The lower bird may have glanced up with a cross look. I can’t be sure. Seagull expressions are hard to read.
Here is where the inspiration struck me: the seagulls are US. Our lives are an endless act of “cleaning”: Dirty dishes return to the kitchen. Unexpected car problems soil our bank accounts. Kids need braces and casts and new shoes. The grass grows…and we must mow it again.
Just when we think we have life squared away “stuff” happens. And we have to clean it up. This happens forever. Life is not a clean business. It requires constant maintenance. Though, no matter how diligent we are in our endeavors to keep things tidy, it’s still a mess. But, it’s a beautiful mess.
Life for all of its confusing, frustrating, head-shaking, fist-shaking, confounding moments of “why me?” is worth it. The tough times make the good stuff better. We need the bad things to appreciate the good. It’s an undeniable relationship.
Following the “episode”, the lower bird just started over. He started cleaning again. He didn’t squawk or scream about it. He didn’t bow his head and hide in his wing. He went back to work. It was quite dignified.
So, like the seagull, when life unloads on us, we should simply get back to work and keep moving. Life is never perfect and it never will be, but it’s still pretty great. We clean what we can and keep trying and smiling and cleaning some more. This is a solid recipe for a good and happy life…and not crapping on other people trying to clean their messes is important, too…
[EDITOR’S NOTE:”Feel Good Friday” is a regular column written by Des Moines resident Dave Markwell, who just published his first book called “A Feel Good Life” (buy it on Amazon here ). Dave also extols to all neighbors: “Enjoy where we live. Put your feet on the pavement and truly feel how great it is to live here!” Also, you can “friend” Dave on Facebook here . Or work out with him at his exercise company Waterland CrossFit !]