Moments in the Sun

There’s a big square outside our house. This morning, a crow strutted around like she owned the place. For a solid minute and a half, she walked from the edge of the square to its center, inspected a parked RV, and even paraded the sidewalk end to end. “Look at me! This is my kingdom. I can fly, but I choose to walk – and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

An old German saying is that “when the cat leaves the house, the mice dance on the table.” In the animal world, it really is about danger. What better time to examine a wide open area than when no predator seems around? The most obvious human equivalent is the teenager throwing a party when their parents aren’t home. There are, however, more evolved versions of this behavior.

When my friend handed in his thesis, for about a week or so, there was no stopping him. He’d walk down the street like a football team mascot, 120% smiles. It’s the explosive cocktail of relief and newfound confidence, and we get to order it whenever we ship a big thing, sign a big deal, or turn a hard corner.

Unlike the crow’s moment in the sun, my friend’s swagger stint was earned. He didn’t celebrate his advisor being on vacation. He worked for his endorphins – and he should get to enjoy every last one of them.

How often do we both feel and act like the successful people we, deep down, actually are? Those times are far and few between, but they provide us with much needed energy and courage for the next six-month slog of “nothing works until it does.”

There is nothing sadder and perhaps more damaging than such a spark-spangled moment in the spotlight ending too soon – and yet we’ve all been the downer friend that can’t help but quip: “Well, now the serious part begins! Good luck finding a job!”

There’s a time to point out problems and a time to keep your mouth shut. Post-achievement glow is the latter. Let your friends enjoy their restorative minutes in the sun. They’ll rejoin you in the dip soon enough.

Eventually, the crow took off from the sidewalk. She had to get back to the business of being a crow. Whether it’s your own celebrations or the ones of those you love, don’t blow out the candles too early. We’ll seek new heights in due time, and since we didn’t just steal our spotlight, we’ll soar higher than the phony crow ever will.