Wednesday, 20 October 2021
Gillie Sutherland looking over the Neretva Valley Gillie Sutherland looking over the Neretva Valley

Find your song and stay forever young

Written by  Jul 04, 2021

One of my favourite things about my life here in Croatia is waking up to the sound of the birds.

It’s literally music to my ears, and a little food for my soul, as I listen to them singing to the Earth.

I often lie in bed a little longer wondering what they are singing about, of the song has some meaning, and what the lyrics may be.

The healing power of music is not a new concept; some of the best works of the great musicians were created from a place of darkness, and a need to work through difficult emotions, and I often wonder whether the birds sing, as cats purr, to soothe themselves as much as anything else.

For not everything needs a purpose, an outcome, a badge of achievement at the end for it to be important.

There’s a Chinese proverb that goes: “The bird doesn’t sing for an answer, it sings because it has a song”.


Having spent a glorious day bird watching on the Neretva valley, I’d been thinking about what we could learn from these fascinating creatures who all seemed so flipping chirpy all the time.

Aside from migrating South for the winter, as many do (which just seems obvious), is there something else that they know that we don’t about how to live more joyfully?

Then I come across a story of a tribe in Namibia where the people believe that every child is borne with a song inside them, and everyone in the tribe knows what this song is. So whenever the child falls or gets hurt, there is always somewhere there to pick him up to sing his song to him.

What if we all have a song inside us? The song that is the unique expression of our soul, the song that, when we sing it, we feel totally at one with ourselves, and with the world around us. We feel that moment of pure flow.

We may not know what the song is that we were borne with, but maybe there’s a song that so perfectly strikes the chord for that moment in time which can have the same powerful healing effect?

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My fellow bird enthusiast on the trip yesterday, she had her song.

She played it for us on the way home. It was a beautiful moment. Even though she was in the front, and I was in the back, of the 8-seater, I could feel her like a creature in rapture, as she described the journey it took her on.

It’s her song for the moment, but more than that…..she is the song.


Later that evening, as I make my way back home alone, I am considering what my song might be.

I don’t know, so I switch on the radio.

And then I laugh out loud.

The first track I hear is by one of my all-time favourite musicians, Bob Dylan, and it’s “Forever Young”. The lyrics, and the sound, could not have been more fitting. “May your heart always be joyful. May your song always be sung”.

You’d think I was making this up, but I’m not, and as I drive along the coast road from Dubrovnik to Cavtat at sunset after a truly soul-nourishing day, I just smile and think to myself.

“Yep, the birds are onto something”. There’s a bit of magic in the air.

And I have my song.

I am Forever Young!

Gillie Sutherland grew up in the north of England, before settling in Devon, but has now swapped her UK address for one on the Adriatic in the very south of Croatia, in Konavle. A professional Wellness Consultant she now runs retreats and online courses from her Konavle base. She also writes a weekly column for the Devon newspaper, The Express and Echo.

To find out more about Gillie go to

Read more Gillie here 

The Voice of Dubrovnik


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