My encounter with the Curious Owl happened while I was on one of my favorite local walking/running trails. I had been running at an area on the trail under heavy tree cover and ahead of me I noticed two people standing, looking and pointing at something in the trees above. I was on a mission to keep my pace so I didn’t pause to see what had them spellbound. I kept running and as I passed underneath the spot they were staring at, I remember hearing movement not far behind me.
After I finished my loop, I was cooling down with a walk around the parking lot when suddenly I heard a perturbed sounding female voice yell, “Excuse me!” Surely this person can’t be talking to me, I thought. I kept walking. “Excuse me! Were you the one that was just running in the woods?” Ok, maybe she is talking to me. I stopped and turned around expecting a confrontation, “Yeah,” I answered matter of factly.
The woman struggled to speak as if she were out of breath, exasperated by the fact she couldn’t get her words out quick enough, “Well, we just had to tell you,” she motioned toward her male companion… “when you went running by us, we were watching two owls in the trees and when you ran past, the baby one swooped down right next to your head. We think it was after your ponytail, like maybe it thought it was a squirrel or something.”
Thinking back to that moment I imagine I looked quite perplexed scratching my head and searching the empty air around me hoping to happen upon a few floating words. I remained silent wondering what to say given this…unexpected information. When my words finally decided to assemble themselves into an intelligible sequence I said, “I wonder if it’s a sign.”
“Well I don’t know, but we just had to tell you that.” I stood rooted to the green patch of grass I was standing on as I watched the couple turn and walk towards their vehicle and drive off.
As I crawled in my car to leave I couldn’t help but think about how odd the occurrence was. Certainly it couldn’t be a common experience, the owl itself or the way in which I learned of its presence.
I had questions. What do you do when you have questions that need to be answered? Google. I typed some version of owls and symbolism in the search bar. I came away with two pieces of information. The first described a more well-known depiction; the owl is commonly used in our culture to represent wisdom or knowledge. The second explanation I uncovered described how in some cultures the owl served as a warning for death or tragedy. Fantastic. Nice to know I brought death upon someone all because I had to go running through the woods.
With this new information and my ongoing battle to try and keep looking toward the positive— I decided that if it had been a sign from the universe, I was going to view it as a positive one. What does any of this actually mean? I choose to see it as this: Be like the young, curious owl. Let go of the sturdy branch on which you cling and take flight, even if it means risking a mistake.
A few days later I was retelling the story to my dad, including my google search. As we sat on the back of his box truck discussing it, an idea occurred to me. Seeking wisdom and knowledge of the world and of myself would in a way— lead to the death of the person I once was to make room for the newly enlightened one. One might call it a death without tragedy.