A Little Happier: We Can’t Protect Ourselves from the Pigeon That’s Flying Overhead.


My family and I often laugh about something that we saw years and years ago, and I think of this moment often.

My mother, my father, my sister Elizabeth, and I were on a big family trip, the most ambitious trip we ever took together. We were traveling around Europe together.

We were in Italy somewhere, probably Florence, and we were walking around one of those big, beautiful squares and taking in the sights. At one point we stopped for gelato, as one does, and we sat down on a bench to eat.

We all noticed an older gentleman nearby. He was dressed in a dapper suit, and he was very elaborately laying down sheets of newspaper on the steps of a cathedral, to protect his clothes before he sat down. With a lot of fuss, he got the newspapers  just the way he wanted them, he gingerly sat down, he got himself settled—and then from above comes a big splat.

A pigeon had pooped right on his knee.

We couldn’t help but laugh at this poor guy’s predicament. It was such an obvious example of how we can make the most careful plans, and then something comes out of nowhere to foil us. 

It’s a good reminder: we can take all possible precautions, but try as we might, we can’t guard against everything that might happen.

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