There once was a bird not just any bird; no, this one was much different.

This bird thought himself to be better than any bird that flapped its wings in the sky, and certainly far better and more talented than any bird in his flock.

“I can out-fly you!” he would boast to the other birds in his flock. “I can fly faster and higher! No bird will ever be as good as me!” he would proclaim with his chest puffed out daily on their flight south.

The flock would ignore him, for they knew indulging in or arguing against his cockiness would be of no use. He was just being reckless.

Every day as the flock migrated he gradually flew higher and higher and would dive quickly back down.

One day, the leader of the flock, the oldest of all the birds, said to the reckless bird: “young bird, you can only fly so high before your wings no longer flap and the air no longer carries you.”

The reckless bird laughed and scoffed and wrote off the elder; for he was much too old to know what he was speaking about. He was the greatest bird in the sky. The greatest of them all, and no old bird was going to tell him otherwise.

So again, day after day, he would boast about his greatness and the elder would repeat himself: “young bird, you can only fly so high before your wings no longer flap and the air no longer carries you.”

Until one day, when the flock finally reached its destination, the reckless bird darted higher into the sky than he ever had before. He shouted back down to the others, “I told you I could out-fly you! I’m faster and higher than you’ll ever be!”

His boasting was short-lived, for he was too far up for the flock to hear. He kept flying upwards until he felt the wind under his wings gradually fade away. He flapped his wings harder and faster until his little wings could fly no more because the wind had all but stopped.

The young bird panicked and flapped his wings with great urgency, but to no avail. He spiraled back towards the earth; falling faster than he ever did fly. He was helpless and the flock could do nothing but watch.

The young bird collided with a tree branch and landed heavily on the ground. His wings were ruffled, bent, and broken from the fall. He sobbed to himself until he felt a large, albeit crooked, wing pull him in.

“Young bird, I tried to warn you that it couldn’t be done. I, too, once tried the same feat and wound up with the identical result,” the old bird said to him. “And I, too, had an elder telling me it couldn’t be done. I only wish I had listened to him. For the elders are wise for a reason.”