Chris Forte on his spiritual journey and how a bird helped awaken him to all that is possible.
When I was a little boy, around the age of 8 or 9, I would hear this particular birdsong that would wake me in the morning. Every time I looked out the window, the song seemed to be signaling something positive–it was always a beautiful, sunny day. Back then baseball was everything to me, so when I had a game and heard that song I would jump out of bed with excitement. However, as time passed that song left, and in some way so, too, did my excitement about baseball as a little boy.
By ages 11 and 12 the “game” was all about making the All-Star team. When I was 12 our team went all the way to the Little League World Series and made it to the US finals. We finished 4th in the world and 2nd in the U.S. Quite an accomplishment from a group of young boys! On a side note, I was the losing pitcher in the U.S. final game. After that experience for the following years, now as young men, it was expected that we perform at a certain level. Though we had successful teams we didn’t come close to what we had accomplished when we were 12. Most of us continued to play high school baseball and a few of us played in college. I walked on to the team at University of Dayton, playing a year of Division 1 baseball.
In a way, the path of my baseball career is a spiritual experience that prepared me for the path of life. After college I did what most men do: find a job and start a new journey. The job was a sales executive position at a telecommunications company in Chicago.
After a few years within the company, I was approached by a co-worker and asked to partner and start our own business. I was all in! We started the business in 1996 and the company sold for 58 million USD in 2008. Not bad for three guys who had no idea where the beginning choices would end up leading! I left the company in 2005 because I had lost passion for the job, and not only that, but I was searching within myself. I had started asking, “Who am I?” Like baseball, that business was its own spiritual experience. However, back then I couldn’t say or use those words–“spiritual experience.” I was exploring and didn’t know where I’d be lead.
In 2014 my marriage was falling apart, but I didn’t realize how quickly it would disintegrate. As I was jogging one morning I heard the song of that bird from the baseball days of my youth! It was crystal clear! I stopped in my tracks, listening to the sound of those memories, as tears rolled down my face. Through my spiritual studies I learned that we all have spirit animals (if one is open to this teaching), and I felt that this bird was trying to tell me something. After that, I started hearing that bird all the time again. I ran my dog daily, and almost always heard its song again. I really wanted to find out what type of bird this was so I could do some research about its meaning and significant in my life… But how?
A few weeks went by, and I participated in a men’s retreat. I met a guy there who remains a very good friend of mine, and was excited to learn that he is an avid bird watcher. We had an archery activity and all of a sudden I heard the bird! I go, “Frank, that’s it! Frank, that’s the bird!” All of sudden Frank started mimicking the same whistle, and the bird and Frank were singing back and forth to each other. It was crazy cool to witness. Frank recorded this sound and said, “Chris, give me 24 hours and I’ll text it to you.”
The next day, he texted me “the Black-Capped Chickadee.” I immediately Googled it as well as opened up my book Animal Speak by Ted Andrews, and both affirmed that it is “The Bird of Truth.” I was floored! “Truth” along with “Trust” are the two most important spiritual words I live by. I have them tattooed on my left arm. It’s also one of my core mantras: Be Your Truth And Trust All is in Divine Order. Those words had gotten lost in my marriage. I had forgotten my core values.
Like baseball, business, and a 17-year marriage, all of these spiritual experiences have paved the way for me to live a purposeful life. I’m grateful and so thankful for all the people along the way.
Oh, as for my friend the Chickadee? I hear it all the time. I’m now awake. I had been sleepwalking for a long time.
This article originally appeared on Chris Forte
Photo credit: Getty Images