Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. was in private practice for more than thirty years. He is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the states
As I read the many messages, questions and emotional comments written by some of our readers on Mental Help Net, I am always struck by how depressed, hopeless and angry they are. Too often, among these depressed individuals, are some who embrace death instead of life. A very few of them see death as an escape from a painful existence. In addition, they don’t believe they are important to anyone else in the world, even though they have family, friends and children. They are convinced that they are worthless and no one would miss them.
The Osprey Nest:
I enjoy getting out and walking in the park. It is something I like to do by myself, so I can leave the world behind and be in touch with nature.
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Recently, I looked up and noticed a very large nest high up in a dead tree. Two large, predatory birds were attending to the nest. They were beautiful, with white breasts and the typical appearance of Ospreys. Ospreys are skilled fisherman, majestically soaring through the sky, suddenly swooping down into the water to retrieve their prey. These are magnificent creatures.
What became intriguing to me was the dramatic unfolding of the fight for life that I observed day after day. Though they couldn’t be seen, the nest was filled with eggs that the parent Ospreys took turns caring for. One parent would guard or sit on the nest while the other hunted for food to share.
I decided to learn what I could about the Osprey by doing a Google search. I learned that the male and female form a life time bond with one another, returning to the same place each year to build a new nest and start a new family.
Continuing my walks and observations, there came a day when I heard chirping coming from the tree. At that moment, one of the parents came soaring through the sky with food in her talons. She landed on the nest and began feeding the chicks who showed their excitement with agitated squawking. Unfortunately, the actual feeding was impossible to see because of the depth of the nest.
I asked myself why, as these birds fight hard to stay alive, raise chicks and protect them until they can fend for themselves, do some humans embrace death instead of life? The Osprey and other living things fight to stay alive. They don’t question the value of their lives. They live in the moment, they survive, and, as a result, they guarantee the future of their species.
It occurred to me that we have a lot to learn from the Ospreys. As Thich Nhat Hanh says in his book, “The Miracle of Mindfulness,” it is important to live in the now, without thinking and worrying about everything.
As I watched the Osprey nest, I left behind all of my worries and cares. I was lost in the moment, enthralled by the miracles of life as they unfolded before me. I believe that for the first time in my life, I really understood what Thich Nhat Hanh, and his American student, John Kabbat-Zinn, author of “Full Catastrophe Living,” really meant by mindfulness and living in the moment.
It’s not only chemical imbalances, childhood traumas, taking medication and going to psychotherapy, I believe we think too much, live in the past and future too much and lose sight of the present.
Be mindful, go to the park and watch nature, look up at the sky. Whether it’s winter or summer, take in nature and the moment. You will never have that moment again, so, as Hanh says, embrace it now. You can read the books mentioned above and begin learning mindfulness and how to apply it to your life no matter how depressed you may be. It is something all of us need to do.
Your comments and questions are encouraged.
Allan N. Schwartz, PhD
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