Seagulls and the Road to Hell

Seagulls in flightIt’s cliche but they say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. For many individuals who suffer from chronic anxiety and depression that is proven true year after year. I think a short story from Andy Andrews’ The Noticer will illustrate the point nicely.

The wise and enigmatic Jones sits down with Henry to offer some advice on his latest predicament and begins with a riddle.

Jones: “Five seagulls are sitting on a dock. One of them decides to fly away. How many are left?”

Henry: “Well … four”

Jones: “No. There are still five. Deciding to fly away and actually flying away are two very different things.”

Jones Continues: “Listen carefully to me. Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention. The seagull may intend to fly way, may decide to do so, may talk with the other seagulls about how wonderful it is to fly, but until the seagull flaps his wings and takes to the air, he is still on the dock. There is no difference between that gull and all the others. Likewise, there is no difference in the person who intends to do things differently and the one who never thinks about it in the first place. Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.”

And this has what to do with anxiety and depression?

How many times have you intended to do any of the following, but never did:

  • Find a new therapist who better suits you (or go to one for the first time)
  • Get into a regular fitness routine to drop 50 pounds while burning off some of that anxious energy
  • Give meditation, yoga, tai chi or other disciplines a chance
  • Ask for help and support from family or friends to help you through a rough period

I’m as guilty as anyone. Only recently have I returned to the gym after an 18 month layoff that was due in part to foot injuries. Of course, that was a convenient excuse as I could have continued working out in ways that didn’t stress my injuries. There were other excuses as well, but the fact remains that despite all my intentions to get back into the gym I gained 20lbs over the past year.

If you could pick one unrealized intention – just one – to focus on for six months what would it be?

Post Inspired by: Andy Andrews The Noticer

Photo Credit: Maltesen under Creative Commons

3 thoughts on “Seagulls and the Road to Hell

  1. The seagull analogy is really inspiring. It proves that it’s good to take a step back and evaluate what things look like on the outside, especially when it’s so easy to get caught up inside your own mind. Thoughts can be pretty loud sometimes.

    Very much enjoyed your blog!

  2. I am right there with ya. I can be totally psyched and ready to workout and suddenly turn the flimsiest excuse into a reason to sit on my butt! It’s an all or nothing mentality that I have. Maybe you can do a blog about that, as it can be a real show stopper for some. It’s like, if I can’t do something perfectly, I won’t do it at all. When it comes to exercise I know a little is better than none, but my brain say’s, “oh you missed a day, you failed so why bother.” It helps me to think like a person in AA. One day at a time… or even one hour at a time.

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