SHAFAQNA- Many a times, we come across obstacles that stand stubbornly in our way, like the thick wood for the woodpecker, or the freezing cold outside. But the woodpecker found a way around those hindrances, and eventually emerged victorious.
“The perfection of the human being is the intellect.” – Imam Ali (peace be upon him)
Waiting for the frustratingly infrequent 148 to Hurdman the other day, my ears were alerted by a rapping drumming noise coming from the trees above me. It sounded as though someone was trying to sever timber with the services of a hammer.
Looking up, I located the source of the ruckus.
It was a woodpecker. Jet black body with a brilliantly red streak on its head, it was pecking away with its beak on a spot midway up one of the trees.
The only other time I had ever seen a woodpecker before was on TV. Who can forget the legendary cartoon figure of Woody Woodpecker from the 1940’s and his trademark laugh?
He had made good progress. A two-inch deep impression on the bark was already visible, and he didn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
With unwavering determination and almost indecent enthusiasm, Woody continued pecking in his quest for grub.
He was unperturbed by the fact that it was -20 degrees and that the bark was quite thick. Woody wanted breakfast, and nothing was going to stop him.
Some quick googling later on told me that once the woodpecker makes a hole in the tree, it sticks its tongue (which is almost three times longer than its beak in some species!) into the hole, and traps insects with it. Sticky saliva on the woodpecker’s tongue is then secreted in order to trap its food, ensuring that it doesn’t escape.
Watching Woody peck away at that tree, I thought of how I could relate his persistence and hard work to our quest for spiritual perfection in life.
Nobody said our path to reach perfection was going to be an easy one.
Many a times, we come across obstacles that stand stubbornly in our way, like the thick wood for the woodpecker, or the freezing cold outside. But the woodpecker found a way around those hindrances, and eventually emerged victorious.
In his never-say-die attitude is a lesson for us as well. He kept persisting, and never seemed to despair that after all that pecking, there would be no reward to show for his hard work.
We as humans, trying to reach higher levels, should be like the woodpecker: persistent, diligent, and hard-working.
As the 148 finally pulled up beside me, I gave my woodpecker friend a final look of appraisal, and secretly wished him the best of luck.