I believe everything we need to know about life, we can learn from the birds. For instance, did you know that ducks are waterproof? Really. It’s true. But more on that later.
First, let’s talk about how hard life can be and how people can be very mean. It’s true, and you know it’s true. You can’t deny it. There are days when you walk out of your office, church, school, home, or beauty salon and wonder if you can ever return.
People say hurtful things. It is almost as if they relish in the painful look on your face. They search for ways to stab at your heart and wound your spirit. I don’t know why this happens; I can only assume that their pain must require this kind of pathetic response. This mode of living is sad; it is unfortunate for them and tragic for you. A life lived at this lowest level, day in and day out is toxic, and it can become debilitating and life-threatening if we don’t protect ourselves.
Here’s where the duck comes in. Did you know that there is a special gland located near the base of their tails called the Preen Gland? This fantastic adaptation produces a special oil that ducks use to coat their feathers. This oil, once applied to the surface of the feather, creates a protective barrier that keeps out the water and life-draining cold temperatures. It helps trap in their life-sustaining body heat.
But here’s the thing: The duck has to spend much of its time preening to benefit from this protection. Otherwise, the water world in which they live will kill them. Without self-care, the water will seep into the down feather layer and make it impossible for them to survive. Their self-maintenance saves their lives. Without this protection, they can’t float above the water. Without this self-care, the weight of the water in their down makes it impossible for them to fly away from danger. In short, without taking the time to take care of themselves, the ducks will die.
When is the last time you protected yourself from the constant barrage of negative statements and hurtful comments? When did you last take some time to prepare your outer shell, preen yourself, oil your feathers? Does the constant barrage roll off your back or does it seep in where your protection is weakest?
Allow me to offer some suggestions you might consider to strengthen your protective layer, keeping you safe from the hazards or interpersonal life:
- Spend five minutes in solitude.
- Speak words of encouragement to yourself and especially to others. (By the way, did you know how smart you are?)
- Take time to look at art.
- Go for a walk in the woods.
- Take up a hobby. My wife enjoys knitting. I enjoy playing guitar.
- Laugh. Watch a funny movie. Go to a comedy club. Read a comic book (I suggest the Far Side, whenever possible).
- Sing at the top of your voice when you are in the car.
- Pet a cat.
- Walk a dog.
- Eat an excellent meal.
- Drink a fine wine. One glass will do.
- Smell a beautiful flower.
- Hug a good friend.
In short, preen. Take time to take care of yourself, and in the end, the vitriol of others will quickly roll away, like water off a duck’s back.