A story referred to in Eckhart Tolle’s A New Earth and The Power of Now has stayed in my mind for many years. I shall share it because it felt significant in terms of moving on and not becoming stuck by clinging to negative emotions.
The story is brief and I quote:
Two ducks get into a fight – it never lasts long – they then separate and float in opposite directions. Then each duck will flap its wings vigorously a few times, thus releasing the surplus energy that built up during the fight. After they flap their wings, they float on peacefully, as if nothing had ever happened.
If the duck had been human it might have acted differently. The human mind might have thought: I can’t believe he just did that – He encroached into my territory – He thinks he owns this pond – I’ll teach him a lesson he won’t forget – How dare he – I’ll make sure he pays.
Most humans live like this at some level much of the time. The mind keeps the negative emotions on the alert forgetting that our tomorrows become the today we worried about yesterday.
A duck’s lesson to humanity is this: Flap your wings, meaning, let go of the story. Then return to the only certainty in any life force – the present moment.
So much of a human’s day is about yesterdays fuelling tomorrows. When this happens the experience of today becomes nonexistent except for stress related anxieties and predictions. This in turn can be carried by the body and manifests in aches in the head, back, neck or stomach.
If a day breaks carrying with it difficult thoughts of dread, anger, resentment and nagging feelings of unhappiness it can be helpful to observe what you are thinking. If the thought cannot be calmed today, acknowledge it, put it on an imaginary shelf and tell it you will think about it again when you can. If this is tomorrow, it will become today in a few hours and therefore can be looked at again at a more suitable time.
After writing this blog and before posting it, I read the review of Radiator, a film to be screened in the UK on November 27. Richard Johnson and Gemma Jones play Tom Browne’s parents in their declining years. His father Leonard was a psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital and his mother, Mariah was a publisher and teacher. He was concerned about the state of their lives which for him felt as if they had given up and needed care. They were only interested in the present, not the future or the past. When Tom told them that Stevie Smith had written a poem about Mariah and her after they had walked along a beach in Norfolk in the past, she said, “I don’t remember back then. It’s about what’s happening now.”
Maybe that was a human doing much the same as the duck.