The other day, I was running late and I rushed across town to get to my personal trainer for one of my weekly workouts. I got into the parking lot, burst into her workout space spewing apologies like a machine gun, and then realized that I’d forgotten my water bottle so I raced outside again, literally jogging across the parking lot, when suddenly I stopped cold.
Walking down the middle of the parking lot, as if they had taken a measuring stick to determine where the absolute middle was, walked a mama duck, trailed by 8 teenage-size ducklings, with papa duck taking the rear. They walked straight towards me, and then when they were within a few feet from me, they turned right down a different part of the parking lot. Each of them followed every move mama duck made. Even their feet moved in unison – all twenty feet rising and falling in rhythm.
They were beautiful and perfect and doing exactly what ducks are meant to do. They weren’t rushing. They weren’t apologizing. They didn’t appear to be in any stress. I imagine they weren’t telling themselves that they should be more considerate, leave earlier, or not keep other ducks waiting. I imagine they weren’t questioning whether they were good enough ducks.
And, they inspired me to join them in their perfection. For a few moments, I forgot that I had been late. I forgot that I had kept someone waiting. I forgot that I had any negative thoughts about myself and I was transfixed into pure enjoyment, acceptance and love of life and all its creatures – even me. I wanted to clap with zeal, and I would have except that I was afraid it would scare the duck family.
Then, I realized that I was grateful. Grateful that I was running late, grateful that I had forgotten my water bottle in the car, grateful that they had chosen that exact moment to make their trek through the parking lot, and grateful to be alive … with them.
Many of us rush through our lives, focused on tasks, and too often forget the purpose of our tasks or the needs we’re trying to meet with the tasks. Then, we may start to lose touch with the very meaning and purpose for our existence. Sadly, that often leads to depression or aggression and frantic attempts to prove that we’re okay, deserving and acceptable to the human race. In my case, this looked like rushing across town, apologizing for my lateness, and thinking negative thoughts about myself.
When I saw the duck family waddle through the parking lot, I was struck in the heart like a bolt of lightning, and everything else fell away, leaving me in pure delight for the perfection of life.
What gets your attention and causes you to remember your heart or another’s heart? Here are a few things that often do that for me:
- Hearing a baby cry
- Seeing someone coo to a baby, toddler or small child
- Receiving someone’s smile
- Hearing the voice or seeing the face of a good friend
- Seeing animals outside my normal day-to-day life
- Being in nature
- Smelling something magnificent
- Seeing anyone in distress
- One of my favorites is being in the international terminal of an airport and seeing people scream, hug and cry when they greet loved ones who they haven’t seen in a very long time
What about bringing this to our day today? What about greeting people we see every day with special zeal and excitement? What about offering a big toothy, warm grin to a stranger? What about taking a 5-minute break in nature, or really watching your family pet until you see and feel their perfect beingness? Or, just stopping for a moment and reflecting on what you are grateful for? Or, better yet, reflecting on what you like best about yourself?
I want to remember the beauty and perfection of my life more often. I’m grateful for the duck family and when I step out my door in a few moments, I hope to greet whoever I see with genuine gratitude for their presence. I hope you’ll join me.