“It’s the Albatross Around My Neck”

Dear Reader:

Eva Cate’s birthday party was in a room (in the Charleston Museum) that housed left-over exhibits (probably items that didn’t warrant viewing in the main tourist rooms… due to lack of space.) When I sat down at one decorated birthday table I happened to glance up and at first view..thought the creature hanging above my head was some kind of flying dinosaur replica or something.

When I pointed and asked…our wonderful museum coordinator smiled and said “No it is an albatross.”

“Immediately all I could think of was…“Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink .” (The Rime of the Ancient Mariner) And the only other association that popped up from this poem learned in college was an idiom I used and still do…actually a lot- “Whew, it feels so good to have that “albatross off my neck.”

In college I would say it at the end of semester exams or term papers or a lengthy project…the sheer relief of having finally completed something I dreaded.

Today another word is associated with the idiom….guilt… based on the poem by Samuel Coleridge.

The poem tells the tale of an old seaman who, while on a sea voyage, kills an albatross with his crossbow. In nautical lore, albatrosses are a sign of good fortune, and killing one is meant to bring bad luck.

The crew of the ship forces the old seaman to wear the albatross’s carcass around his neck, which is meant to serve as a reminder of his misdeed. The seaman is then cursed and is forced to watch all his fellow crew members die from hunger and thirst. (“Water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink.”)

The curse is finally lifted and the process of his absolution and atonement commences when he fully understands the sacrilege of  killing one of God’s innocent creatures and opens himself up to total acceptance of all living creatures…asking forgiveness for the life he took.

I think in most cases today…this idiom is applied to the feeling one has when he or she reveals a secret or lie that has burdened them for a long period of time…and the sense of absolution once the lie is admitted…how wonderful it feels “to have the albatross off one’s neck.” (*We wouldn’t have soap operas today if they weren’t filled with secrets of all the characters and how these secrets/and or/ lies affect so many people’s lives. Soap operas in a nutshell.)

*The museum coordinator also told me some things about albatrosses I didn’t know…they could sleep while flying and rarely landed…mostly just to lay eggs. They glide instead of flying using air currents over seas and ocean… and spend 80% of their life (60 years average lifespan) over the water. They are one of the few birds who can drink salt water because of a special mechanism that have for ridding themselves of the salt.

*Interesting Fact:

While sleeping mid-flight, albatrosses don’t go completely on autopilot; the birds often sleep with only one side of their brain, leaving the other side awake. Most animals that sleep half-brained do so to stay alert for predators, but frigatebirds have no natural predators in the sky. Rattenborg suspects that they remain half-awake to prevent mid-air collisions, though none were observed during the study.

Could humans also benefit from many short naps over long periods of time? Leonardo Da Vinci is alleged to have slept only 90 minutes a day, in short fifteen-minute bursts every four hours. Maybe he was onto something that albatrosses already knew.

Source: Audubon Findings

So until tomorrow….Isn’t it unbelievable how each of God’s creatures is given all the unique tools it needs to live on this earth….each creature specialized for life and special in God’s eyes.

“Today is my favorite day”  Winnie the Pooh

When I went to the Tractor and Supply Store yesterday….four metallic chicken decorations were sitting on a table and I couldn’t help but think of Luke, Chelsey and their four “girls”… those funny little chickens with such diversified personalities.

Stopped by Anne’s yesterday…and her beautiful shade of yellow day lilies were all in bloom!

Besides being May Day…the first day of May will remind me this year that I finally planted my Moon flower seeds…they will be so beautiful when they bloom in late summer and early autumn.





About Becky Dingle

I was born a Tarheel but ended up a Sandlapper. My grandparents were cotton farmers in Laurens, South Carolina and it was in my grandmother’s house that my love of storytelling began beside an old Franklin stove. When I graduated from Laurens High School, I attended Erskine College (Due West of what?) and would later get my Masters Degree in Education/Social Studies from Charleston Southern. I am presently an adjunct professor/clinical supervisor at CSU and have also taught at the College of Charleston. For 28 years I taught Social Studies through storytelling. My philosophy matched Rudyard Kipling’s quote: “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten.” Today I still spread this message through workshops and presentations throughout the state. The secret of success in teaching social studies is always in the story. I want to keep learning and being surprised by life…it is the greatest teacher. Like Kermit said, “When you’re green you grow, when you’re ripe you rot.”
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “It’s the Albatross Around My Neck”

  1. bcparkison says:

    May 1…my parents 75th anniversary. Not sure it mattered to my Dad sinse he is in and out of life but Mom was giddy as a child. lolIn fact she got her days mixed up and tried to have ‘her day’ on the last day of April.
    Interesting facts about the ole bird. Who knew…I didn’t.The God of creation is a master of detail.


  2. Gin-g Edwards says:

    Wow that is amazing…wish we could sleep with one side of our brain…


Leave a Reply to bcparkison Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.