ducks in shallow water


One row of boxes on the mail route runs along a shallow ditch.

We had a heavy rain the night before, so the ditch was full of water…and when I pulled over to deliver the mail, I noticed two ducks swimming in the shallow water at the side of the road.

They were having a big and peaceful time swimming around down there.

Traffic blowing past…and these ducks were oblivious…happy in their personal bit of water.

I watched them for a while and then drove on…but it got me thinking.

It’s good to have something that gets me thinking.

I should be thinking while I’m doing something that’s become a rote activity.

I should be thinking while I’m on automatic pilot.

The ducks, down in the ditch, had so many options to swim around in. There were lakes, streams, other small ponds close by….all of them just a short flight away…but these ducks were down in the ditch and just as happy and contented as they could be.

Now, there were two or three angles I could attack this from.

I could tell myself that it was kind of sad that these ducks had “settled”…that with such a broad range of bigger and more exciting options out in the world, they’d flown down into something as mundane as a drainage ditch and fooled themselves into thinking that it was alright to be happy there.

Or, I could approach it from the “bloom where you’re planted”angle and celebrate that these ducks seemed so happy.

I suppose that I could just say something like, “GET AWAY FROM THE ROAD, YOU STUPID DUCKS!!!! YOU’RE CROWDING THE MAILMAN!!! YOU’RE TOO FREAKING CLOSE!!!”….but that would be a weird overreaction.

The reaction that I settled on…without a lot of thought or deliberation…was that it was a good thing to see these ducks so contented…and then I wondered if maybe they wouldn’t be contented wherever they ended up swimming?

It would be like us, sitting proudly by the edge of an infinity pool in some fine hotel somewhere, looking out at the ocean and the horizon beyond, enjoying the luxury of our surroundings….but….

maybe later, finding ourselves just as happy to be sitting in a lawn chair with our feet cooling in a fifteen dollar Wal-Mart wading pool.

These ducks! Maybe they were teaching me something!

Maybe happiness wasn’t a matter of hitting the “right situation”? Maybe it was a matter of hitting the situation “right”?

Maybe…and I’ve heard this before, but like a lot of things that I hear often, I discounted it…maybe…maybe, it’s what I bring to wherever I go that is going to determine what my life is like?

That’s easy to think about or say…harder to consistently put into practice.

My situation is a changeable thing….malleable and potentially disappointing.

I know that…I’ve seen that. Sadness comes from a lot of different and surprising angles…it can blow your legs out from under you before you can whistle “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”.

My attitude is the only thing that I have a snowball’s chance of having any control over.

My reactions are my own.

Those ducks were happy and swimming…having fun in that ditch.

I could learn a thing or two about having fun from them.

I should learn a thing or two…..


About Peter Rorvig

I'm a non-practicing artist, a mailman, a husband, a father...not listed in order of importance. I believe that things can always get better....and that things are usually better than we think.

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