There are stories everywhere, just waiting to be plucked from the air or taken from everyday life and enriched. Being open to well-told tales is key: You never know who or what will become a source of inspiration. Take Mike Tyson. Yes, that’s right: Mike Tyson, the former heavyweight boxing champion. I just came across a beautifully told and tender tale he recounted about his lifelong love affair with pigeons. This story has everything: drama, pain, loss, compassion.
According to Mike, pigeons have fascinated him since he was a young boy and they “continue to bring me great peace even now.” He goes on to say, “As a child, I was very awkward and never felt as though I fit in (anywhere). One the roof, none of my insecurities mattered. As I watched the birds soar above me, in that moment I was free just like them…My birds never judged me or made me feel inadequate. I was actually the most important relationship that they had. They were totally dependent on me for food and shelter and I felt honored to be needed, and this made me feel wanted and relevant…Pigeons were the first loving relationship I ever had.”
As Mike describes it, his love and compassion for these pets actually led him to his fighting career. When a bully killed one of his beloved birds, Mike “snapped” and began to fight him. “By him hurting an innocent being that I loved and cherished, it was the catalyst to the fighter within” — this is how Mike described what happened.
There’s something so poignant, so moving, about the way that Mike expresses his love for these creatures. We see the boy in the man. We see the protector in the fighter. We see the compassion in the champion. What a rich and touching story! Never again will I be able to view Tyson one dimensionally as a tough, aggressive fighter. Through the power and beauty of his story, he’s transformed himself into someone tender who cherishes innocence. Well told, Mike!