The sky was so blue down here on the South Coast of England the other day. A bluebird day, as they say in the USA – sunny, cloudless, beautiful.
And yet it was the same day which brought flooding to many people further north; and a day in which the UK prepared for a lock down to slow the spread of Covid-19.
This balance often comes up in coaching. What clients will let go of, in order to do something new. How to dwell on the positive, as well as learn from mistakes.
All this brought to mind the old song ‘Bluebird of Happiness’. Written by Hungarian-American violinist Sandor Harmati in 1934 for opera tenor Jan Peerce, the song was released many times with different orchestras and was a worldwide hit in 1945 – no doubt linked to the success of Vera Lynn’s ‘(There’ll be Bluebirds Over) The White Cliffs of Dover.’
The song tells of the importance of optimism and hope for brighter, happier, times – whilst recognising that the rough is as important as the smooth. Or, as Jan Preece sings it, ‘…it’s in the game, the bitter and the sweet.‘
The link to nature – to ‘blue birds’ – goes even further back to Chinese mythology and Native American folklore. In both of these ancient traditions, blue birds are associated with the sun. In European folk history especially in France, blue birds are linked to happiness and inspired the play The Blue Bird by Maurice Maeterlinck, which opened on Broadway in 1910 and helped cement the concept in modern culture.
Bluebirds themselves are small members of the thrush family, found throughout North America. Blue birds in Europe include blue tit, blue rock thrush and European roller.
This year is perhaps a better year than any since 1945 for those of us in the West to re-read these words and reflect on their meaning. So here they are in full, with a link below to the song itself.
The beggar man and the mighty king are only different in name,
For they are treated just the same by fate.
Today a smile and tomorrow a tear, we never know what’s in store.
So learn your lesson before it is too late.
So be like I, hold your head up high ’til you find the bluebird of happiness.
You will find greater peace of mind, knowing there’s a bluebird of happiness.
And when he sings to you, though you’re deep in blue
You will see a ray of light creep through
And so remember this, life is no abyss
Somewhere there’s a bluebird of happiness.
The poet with his pen, the peasant with his plow,
It makes no different who you are, it’s all the same somehow.
The king upon his throne, the jester at his feet,
the artist, the actress, the man on the street.
It’s a life of smiles and a life of tears It’s a life of hopes and a life of fears.
A blinding torrent of rain and a brilliant burst of sun,
A biting tearing pain and bubbling sparkling fun.
And no matter what you have, don’t envy those you meet.
It’s all the same, it’s in the game, the bitter and the sweet.
And if things don’t look so cheerful, just show a little fight.
Fore every bit of darkness, there’s a little bit of light.
For every bit of hatred, there’s a little bit of love.
Fore every cloudy morning, there’s a midnight moon above.
Bluebird of Happiness, Harmati/Hayman/Parr-Davies (1934)
Happy new year.