My boyfriend lives in an apartment complex with two large duck ponds. Extremely beautiful with islands and fountains and Grandmother Willow trees laying above, gently dropping the leaves off her branches and floating freely around the freely swimming, interacting ducks and geese.
Whenever I sleep at his house, I love waking up and taking all of the old bread we can find, and walking down to feed the ducks in the sunlight. To me, there is nothing more peaceful. It’s a true joy for me to watch as the ducks interact and swim and talk to each other. The way they communicate is like a playground of kindergarten students. Filled with rules and courtesy’s that adults cannot possibly understand. I get lost when I watch this swimming community. I think to myself what they could possibly be saying and what they could possibly be laughing at with each other. There were these two that must have been playing tag, swimming and quacking and nipping each other in the butt feathers. Did you know ducks could play tag?
I could watch these ducks forever. I love everything about them. They influence my thinking to compare their actions and reactions to humans. How similar we handle conflict, games, and loved ones. How there are always more popular ducks swimming around us, more powerful ducks, weaker ducks. The only difference between us and ducks is that we are in a different form; a different species. Also, just happened to be more civilized.
However, today is unsurprisingly no different than the other mornings in comparing the ducks to the world I see myself. This day, as Devan and I walked from the smaller duck pond with the island in it, over to the larger duck pond with the giant fountain in it, I came across a silent duck.
This poor ducky was just standing on the top rock in the grass, opening its mouth and trying to scream. He kept trying and was mustering up all of the power in his tiny duck body and non-stop pouring everything he had into his vocal cords. Nothing came out. I could feel his pain. I could feel the duck’s frustration and sadness. “Why can’t I make noise?? Why can’t I scream?? Where is my voice?! Why isn’t this working?!?!” I could only imagine the things he was thinking to himself.
I was frozen and just staring at this duck. It didn’t even flinch the closer I got. It wouldn’t eat the bread I was offering. I could have picked it up, it barely moved when I would touch its back and feel the feathers. I couldn’t help but frown in sadness at this lonely body. Devan warned me the other ducks would probably kill it. Surely, but slowly, the small duck found the water and jumped in the pond. Next to the geese and the other ducks. Not even five minutes in the water and two other ducks nipped the silent one in the neck! They reached around and bit him! He kept opening his mouth, watching and feeling the NOTHINGNESS come out and ALL the ducks surrounding him were looking confused! They were probably thinking, “Who is this impostor? Fake duck! Not real! Can’t even quack! Is this real??”
“Ashlyn, that’s just how it is. That’s a weak duck. The other ducks will bite it and it will probably die. Don’t be sad. It’s the circle of life. Weak things don’t survive in the wild. That’s life.” Devan just seemed such a man about it. I’m just a girl. I name animals and inanimate objects like cars, purses, and shoes. I put emotion into everything that comes out of my mouth.
So as we walked away, I started thinking about the situation and the ducks and life and how it connects to me and why I was thinking about it so much. It had to click eventually. Which it did. Just now. I realized, just like the duck, without a voice, WE WILL DIE. We will lose so many luxuries. Without a voice, we allow others to pick on us and control us and everything we do. Silence IS the enemy! The strongest ducks in the pond had the loudest quack and the ability to control the situations.
Now, don’t be loud, because that could just cause you to sound obnoxious. But be HEARD. Be SMART. Be daring. Say what is on your mind. Speak your thoughts! Bring them to life! Share your ideas and FEAR NOTHING!
Lose your voice and you too, shall end up like the weak duckling in the pond that was just too big for him.