I’m currently reading Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now. How this book wound up in my life is its own story of synchronicity. After I was hired sight-unseen for a teaching gig I hadn’t been seeking, I discovered this book was on my predecessor’s syllabus. I mentioned this a few weeks ago to a friend who had popped in for lunch.
“I think I need to read this book.” I said.
“Oooh! Goosebumps.” she said, ” I have that book in my car right now. I knew it was meant for donation — I just didn’t know it was meant for you.”
She had planned to run a few errands following our lunch, which included dropping off a few items in donation. The book was in her donation pile.
Let me tell you, I am learning that now is very powerful indeed.
So this week I was reading a chapter about using and relinquishing negativity. Early on in the chapter Tolle discusses the problem of negativity,
Negativity is totally unnatural. It is a psychic pollutant, and there is a deep link between the poisoning and destruction of nature and the vast negativity that has accumulated in the collective human psyche.
You might imagine my delighted surprise when I came to a passage about ducks. When I read what Tolle had to say on the topic I had to laugh. He starts with….
Even ducks have taught me important spiritual lessons. Just watching them is a meditation. How peacefully they float along, at ease with themselves, totally present in the Now, dignified and perfect as only a mindless creature can be.
This man has obviously not met my ducks, I thought and closed the book.
You see, earlier this week we had a duck fight. One of the bad boys, Myrrh, started it. He grabbed ahold of poor Hiram’s neck with his bill, forcing Hiram to retailiate by grabbing Myrrh’s neck and the two side-stepped back and forth like they were slow dancing. It was really ridiculous. Myrrh then joined his juvenile deliquent brother, Frankincense, in bullying their sister Mistletoes.
Finally, after one Mistletoes rape too many, I tossed both Frank and Myrrh out of the pen and chased them to the pond. Aside from the departed baby Penguin, none of the ducks had ever been out of the pen in the great beyond. I told El-D I didn’t care what happened to the hooligans, which was almost true…
…until the next morning when I went outside to see if they looked ready to atone for their ruffian behavior and sexual shenanigans.
The boys were nowhere to be found. I called El-D to whine about it: I didn’t mean to sentence them to death! I just thought a little overnight banishment into the great beyond might do something to improve their disposition. El-D joined me in the search for the missing ducks. We found them…in the pen. In my indignation the previous day, I had absently left the door ajar and the little jerks had snuck back in. All ducks were present and they were laying around murmuring to each other about whatever ducks murmur about.
Ok, so I was happy to see them. Besides, their little adventure did seem to have a positive effect – they were definitely more subdued. There was no aggression, just companionable communication. I guess a day of swimming and doing duck things in the great beyond wore them out.
So….we decided to experiment. El-D wrangled the guys again, which was quite a show. Each one struggled to get away as El-D carried them out of the pen and up the hill. As soon as they caught another glimpse at the pond, they became still and quiet. When El-D released them, they went flapping to the water. At the end of the day, they were easy to herd back to the pen. The next day, when I opened the pen door the bad boys ambled out on their own…followed by Mistletoes.
When I next opened Tolle’s book, this is what I read:
Occasionally, however, two ducks will get into a fight — sometimes for no apparent reason, or because one duck has strayed into another’s private space. The fight usually lasts only for a few seconds, and then the ducks separate, swim off in opposite directions, and vigorously flap their wings a few times. They then continue to swim on peacefully as if the fight had never happened. When I observed that for the first time, I suddenly realized that by flapping their wings they were releasing surplus energy, thus preventing it from becoming trapped in their body and turning into negativity.
What a lesson in forgiving and forgetting.
Today all seven are playing outside in the great beyond. At sunset I will go out there and they will make their way to the pen for their cracked corn dinner. They are as just fancy about this routine as you please and as well-behaved (at least for now) as the Peabody ducks. All they need is a little red carpet.
Watch any plant or animal and let it teach you acceptance of what is, surrender to the Now. Let it teach you Being. Let it teach you integrity – which means to be one, to be yourself, to be real. Let it teach you how to live and how to die, and how not to make living and dying into a problem.