Seemingly perfect to the average onlooker. However, a very imperfect day indeed for Cherri
(pronouced Ch eh ri`), a tiny Barn Swallow, who found herself perched on a branch of a Willow Tree.
"Oh dear, oh dear" she exclaimed as she looked at her wings, most dissatisfied. As she sat on the branch, she could hear the laughter and singing of her friends soaring around her.
"Cherri, come on!" they cheered and laughed. "Don't just sit there all day, let's play!"
Swooping and spinning, her friends flew through the air without a care in the world. There were birds of all kinds - Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Blue Jays, and Cardinals to name a few. They filled the sky with brilliant colors and beautiful melodies, all flying and enjoying the endless summer sky.
"Oh, I can't" she whispered to herself. "I am so plain. My wings are not colored, my feathers not fair. I'm sure I can't fly as far or as fast nor can I sing such a beautiful tune. I just can't."
And so she remained on the branch, tossing gently back and forth in the breeze and feeling more and more despairing as the day wore on.
Her wings ached to soar through the air but her heart sank as she watched her beautiful friends. She could not compare to the brilliant red Cardinal that raced past or the dazzling green Hummingbird that could jut from spot to spot.
"Why am I me? I wish I were she!" she fretted and sulked.
After some time, as Cherri was sitting gloomily, a gentle thud rocked the branch. Cherri picked up her head and saw that an Owl had landed on the branch a few feet away.
"Hello!" a voice boomed, startling Cherri out of her thoughts.
"Hello" she replied sheepishly.
"Why are you looking so glum?" the Owl asked.
"Oh, I don't know" she said with a sigh.
"Hmmmm...." said the Owl, peering at her with a blazing gaze.
Cherri couldn't help but notice how beautiful the Owl was. A brilliant white chest nestled between strong beautiful wings. His eyes were the color of the sun, and he could careen his neck nearly all the way around.
"Wow", she thought to herself, "I really feel so plain". She sunk her head low at the thought and decided she best keep to herself.
The two remained silent for some time as they rode the branch - up and down, side to side, in the rhythm of the wind. Cherri watched her friends soaring through the air, laughing and singing, and as she watched, the sadness in her eyes grew.
"What is it that brings you such sadness, Little One?"asked the Owl. The gentleness in his voice caused Cherri to look up and into his beautiful eyes.
"Well", she said pausing "I, ...I,....I am not like them. (pointing her wing to her friends in the air). I have no special colors on my wings. I have no special song in my voice. I.....I am so plain." With that, a tear fell from her eye to her beak and down... down... down to the grass below.
"I see", said the Owl, thoughtfully. "And, what may I ask, makes them special?"
"Well, I think that it would be splendid to have beautiful red feathers, or yellow or blue! Why, how grand it would be to be able to sing like a Lark? Oh, if only I wasn't me!"
"Tell me, Little One, what is it like to be you?" inquired the Owl.
Cherri paused, a little surprised at the question. She wasn't sure how to answer, so she sat for a moment thoughtfully.
"Well, I am not like them" she stated matter-of-factly (slightly annoyed by the question).
"Yes, I am aware of that" answered Owl, patiently. "You have told me what you are not, but you haven't said what you are." "What is it like to be you?" he asked again, with gentleness in his tone.
"Um....I", she hesitated.
"You are so delicate" interrupted the Owl. "It must make flying swift."
"Well....yes....I suppose it does." Cherri answered, considering deeply what the Owl was saying.
"And, your wings are so shiny and dark. I would imagine they reflect the light of the sun quite nicely" he commented.
"I guess that is true" Cherri agreed, beginning to feel her spirits lifting a bit. "I do like the way my wings sparkle when I turn in the light" she said more confidently.
"The shape of your feathers makes me think that you fly with great speed and agility" the Owl kindly stated.
"Oh, I can fly really fast. And, just like that I can turn and go this way and that!" Cherri responded enthusiastically. "Want to see me?" she asked excitedly.
"Oh, Yes, I would love to see!" answered the Owl.
And with that, Cherri left the branch and soared through the air. The feeling of the wind beneath her feathers was exhilarating as she gained speed. She laughed as she reached maximum speed, tipped her head down, and launched herself toward the ground. Just before she reached the grass, she raised her head up and just like that she shot upward, then to the left, then to the right. She spun in the air watching the sun reflect off of her wings, shining and dazzling. She laughed so hard that she thought she would run out of breath. Eyeing the branch that she had shared with the Owl, she made her ascent and sat down once again. Slightly breathless, but ever so fulfilled.
"Did you see me?" she asked in between breaths.
"Oh yes, and it was spectacular!" exclaimed the Owl.
"It was?" asked Cherri, slightly in disbelief.
"It was indeed. For you see, I did not see any other birds that looked exactly as you did. You are unique. Your wings shine like none of theirs, and they are not able to move as swiftly as you. You must be very happy to be you" the Owl said, quite assuredly.
Cherri pondered that for a moment and remembered the feeling of the wind in her wings. She remembered the thrill of turning left and right and the dazzle of her wings in the sun. It was in that moment that she realized that she really did like being her. While she knew that she did not have feathers of red, blue or gold, she loved the way hers glistened and shimmered in the sun. While she did not have the same melodious songs to sing, she quite enjoyed the laughter that erupted from her throat as she twisted and turned in the wind.
"Yes......yes I am very happy to be me" Cherri sung as she launched herself off of the branch. "I am very happy to be me indeed!"