I was sitting on the beach with Eleanor and we were staring at two seagulls a few feet away from us. They were staring at us, hoping for some of the potato chips we were eating.
"Stupid scavengers," Eleanor said.
I watched the birds, saying nothing for a minute. But then I said:
"They're noble birds of the sea, not stupid scavengers. Look at how beautifully they are colored, the same as the sand and the clouds in the sky. And look at how their beaks are made to stick deep into the sand to burrow for crabs. And look how elegantly they hold their position against the wind, and how they can fly for great distances across the open sea."
We stared at the birds.
"They are beautiful, dad."
"I know, Eleanor. It's a little sad."
"Well, Eleanor, it is because of humans that they are distracted from their noble, original purpose. And what of our original purpose? Are we so much different? Look at us, chasing after cars, money, power, fashion, position. How much different are we than these birds staring at us? Are we doing what we were meant to do? I think the stuff we're chasing after is worse for us than these chips are for the seagulls."
Silence. Ebb and flow. Rhythm. Waves.
"C'mon sweetie let's walk down the beach."
"I love you dad."
"I love you too, Eleanor. As much as a person can be loved."
(note:edited to reflect part of the conversation that was missing. Of course, this isn't verbatim, but this edit is closer to it, not farther from it.)