Have You Settled For Second Best?

About 4 minutes to read

Walking down the hill towards the beach I was enthralled by the scenery before me.  To the left lay the Baltic Sea with the tiny island of Greifswalder Oie in the distance and its lone lighthouse shining faithfully.  To the right was a beautiful inland lake filled with vibrant birdlife.  As far as the eye could see the Baltic Sea shimmered with perfect stillness and calm as the late October sun weakly tried to warm the Earth and her inhabitants.

I felt almost blissful knowing that yet again I would be able to stand on the shore and hear the sounds of the ocean, that wonderful melody of waves lapping the shore.  For weeks I had been longing to hear the ocean and eventually I was almost there.

The moment was perfectly idyllic as I walked towards my heart’s desire until…

It was faint at first, a slight whiff carried on the breeze.  Passing grazing sheep on the descent I wondered if the smell emanated from them, but it was too pervasive to be coming from a small flock of sheep.  Pressing on towards the beach the odorous onslaught overwhelmed the senses, a mix of decay and excrement, it made me want to gag!  What was it I wondered? A dead animal?

Rounding a bend I saw the cause for the dreadful smell, it was a sewage treatment plant.  Slap bang in the middle of paradise.  I tried to walk faster to bypass the plant and rid myself of the smell when I became aware of loud bird cries.  I noticed a small flock of seagulls flying around the facility and diving as if to catch and eat something, yet their behaviour seemed competitive and combative.  There was that loud screeching cry that seagulls make and they seemed quite excited with their exploits.

When I reached the beach I was confronted by the ocean gently lapping on the shore and a plethora of other bird species. Seagulls, Terns, Petrels, Ducks, Cormorants, Swans and even crows were present.  The seagulls were happily going about their business on the calm ocean and it was a pleasure to watch.  There seemed to be a grace and precision to their activity.  It was obvious that there were vast amounts of small fish about as all the sea birds were diving and feasting.

The setting was quite glorious and one of those moments where nature seems to come together and present us, the human bystanders, with utter joy and bliss.

Later as I returned up the hill I was once again aware of the foul smell of the sewage plant and the frantic seagulls.  Looking closer I realised that they were frantically trying to catch the few remaining flying insects that are present around such facilities.  Their screeches and movements were frantic and I wished I could speak seagull language and instruct them to fly 100 meters east and join their feasting compatriots at the water.

In a moment of insight, nature mirrored life and I saw how we, like the insect seeking seagulls, often settle for second best.  You see those birds were all fighting over a few insects whereas less than 100 meters away there was a feast readily available, if they only flew there to look.

How often in our lives don’t we become stuck in a situation, thinking that it will suffice or that’s all we are able to achieve when just around the corner a wonderful opportunity is awaiting us if we would only seek it out.

Perhaps we think that what we have is good enough and we don’t push ourselves further or stretch ourselves more.  We may even believe that we are unworthy of having or experiencing something better.  Maybe our self-esteem or self-confidence has taken a knock and we are scared of being knocked down again.

I know there have been times in my life when I’ve settled for second best when I’ve been too lazy to push through or I have lowered my expectations of myself.

I think of all of the moments when I’ve settled for second best because of fear or a lack of vision and while regret for the past is useless, I have learned my lesson and am committed to not settling for second best.

I think we all know when we have done this.  We experience a nagging thought or feeling within and we rationalise or justify it away.  Eventually we may even convince ourselves of some truth in the story we have concocted but deep within we know, we have settled.

The fact is our life is happening now! It’s not happening tomorrow or when we find the perfect job, meet the perfect love, buy the beautiful house, and retire to an idyllic life.  No! It’s now.

So surely we owe it to ourselves to always give our best.  To always strive for our highest ideals, to get over our fear or complacency to continue to seek even when settling feels so comfortable.

Ask yourself where have I settled for second best?  Does it make you happy or content knowing that you’ve settled or do you want to change this?

Our lives are happening right now, let’s make them great and not second best!

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