The ducks are teaching me, just like every other part of nature. Here is some of what I'm learning:
- You are made for your surroundings. Ducks are perfectly suited for their environment. Their food is everywhere -- under water (algae and other aquatic plants, tiny fish) and on land (insects and seeds). They are built to swim both above water and under water (those webbed feet are so efficient that ducks can even run short distances on the water), to fly in the air, and even to walk a bit on land. The transitions between these different ways of traveling are seamless and beautiful. (Have you ever seen a duck land on water? It's kind of like watching someone waterski). Their feces fertilize the areas to feed other plants and animals.
Humans are no different. Each of us is made for the specific niche in which we find ourselves. It may not be obvious, because it may feel awkward -- but the duck is as nervous about predators as you are about that next meeting or next job. Think about all the ways in which you are suited to your circumstances. At the very minimum, if you are reading this, it's because you are interested in your own self-development. You have therefore surrounded yourself with opportunities for this, whether that's through your work, your family, your friends, your health or your hobbies.
- When you have nothing else to do, take care of yourself. Ducks spend a lot of time grooming their feathers, in the same way that cats do. All that feather maintenance must keep them waterproof and optimally aerodynamic, both of which are necessary to their safety and finding food.
Humans are no different. You need to maintain your physical body so you can hunt later. Maybe you need to exercise aerobically, or stretch, or do strength training, or sleep, or do any of a million things you know will help you perform better when it matters.
- Stick close to your mates -- they'll keep an eye out for you. Ducks seem to sleep, or at least nap, in groups, and one of their number always has his eyes open.
Humans are no different. Even though we no longer live in clans in our society, good friends will look out for you. No single one of us can keep our eyes open all the time, and no single one of us can see in all directions simultaneously. Stick close to your friends, appreciate when they look out for you by covering for you with the boss, or finding a bargain for you -- and look out for them, too.
- Just because your mates are looking out for you, doesn't mean they're not looking out for themselves. When humans show up with bread treats, the same duck who was keeping an eye out for the group will still elbow (wing?) her way to get to the bread first.
Humans are no different. Your best friend will likely tell you about that hot new guy, or the person who's looking for your services -- but only if she's not interested.
- Each duck is unique, and no duck is truly different. If you sit with the ducks long enough, you begin to notice that each duck's feathers are subtly different. This one has stripes under his tail, that one has only white feathers there, the other one has an adorable curled feather on top of her back. And all are covered in feathers, have a head, two wings, two webbed feet, and a heart and other organs that support all of this.They are all governed by the law of gravity, and the fact that their specific gravity is less than that of water. Do they feel the same inside? Who knows?
Humans are no different. You may feel alone, misunderstood, like you are the only person in the world with your beliefs or your history or your problems. And we all have a head, two legs, skin without feathers or fur, and organs to support it all. Perhaps we do feel differently inside, as we each have a different history, and yet all of us are subject to the law of gravity, the laws of man, and the fact that our bodies will some day wear out.