The word albatross is sometimes used metaphorically to mean a psychological burden that feels like a curse.
It is an allusion to Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798). In the poem, an albatross starts to follow a ship – being followed by an albatross was generally considered an omen of good luck. However, the titular mariner shoots the albatross with a crossbow, which is regarded as an act that will curse the ship (which indeed suffers terrible mishaps). Even when they are too thirsty to speak, the ship’s crew let the mariner know through their glances that they blame his action for the curse. He feels as though the albatross is metaphorically hung around his neck – that is, when people look at him, they see him as the albatross killer and that weighs on him. Thus the albatross can be both an omen of good or bad luck, as well as a metaphor for a burden to be carried as penance.
Hmmm. I used to have a few friends like that. No more. Why write about Albatross love? You’ll see.
Introducing A Divorce Rate For Birds, And Guess Which Bird Never, Ever Divorces? In his new book, The Thing With Feathers, Noah Strycker says albatrosses have a knack for coupling. “These globe trotters, who mate for life and are incredibly faithful to their partners, just might have the most intense love affairs of any animal on our planet,” he writes.
Noah knows “love” is a word normally reserved for humans. Technically, what albatrosses do is “pair bond.” But call it what you will, he says — “to see what real devotion is like, you need to spend some quality time with an albatross.”
A look at the mating systems of some monogamous ocean animals show that finding life partners helps species protect themselves and their young. Research shows that albatrosses are 100 percent faithful. Albatrosses are famous both for their flirtatiousness – taking the form of ritualized mating dances – and for their fidelity. These long-lived and highly-endangered birds will court each other through ritual dances for years. A pair of waved albatross preen each other after months apart at sea. They return to the same island year after year to rejoin their longterm mate for the breeding season.
Albatross relationships seem especially relatable to humans. There are parallels between ourselves and these birds. Birds can teach us humans the real meaning of LOVE.
• Reproduction, movements, daily rhythms, communication and intelligence
• Birds find their way naturally, while humans have had to discover and invent
• The Australian fairy-wrens are all related to each other
• Twenty years after their courtship they will be nesting with the same partner
• Albatrosses feel love even more intensely than we do
“Different people report seeing various things deep in the inky-black eyes of the albatross — wisdom, serenity, wilderness, peace, endurance – which are well and good, but all I see is love.” ~ Noah Strycker
When we can learn to master the fidelity riddle like the albatross, we can all benefit from a much lower divorce rate.
What a terrific example for us humans!
Copyright © 2015 – Larry James. This idea is adapted from Larry’s books, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship,” “LoveNotes for Lovers: Words That Make Music for Two Hearts Dancing” and “Red Hot LoveNotes for Lovers.” Larry James is a professional speaker, author, relationship coach and an award winning nondenominational Wedding Officiant. He performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere. Something NEW about relationships is posted every 4th day on this Relationships BLOG.
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