Art Prose

On Self Determination & Ducks

I read something by Rumi once:


“Don’t be satisfied with stories . . .
How things have gone for others . . . 
Unfold your own.”


Live life without an outside reference. In Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes that she found God inside herself as herself. Aristotle says consciousness is the process of putting oneself in someone else’s shoes (projection) and imagining someone else in our shoes (introjection). Emmet Fox says that God means “in particular, your own knowledge of Truth, as that knowledge is in itself the Presence of God in the one who knows it, his Indwelling [God].” 


Sometimes the world looks bleak to me. Rumi also has some interesting things to say on depression:


“Your depression is connected to your insolence and refusal to praise.”


This short writing is about ducks. It used to be that the bleakness would come on like a fog that suddenly engulfed me. Now, I see that I took many little steps and walked myself into a foggy corner of the world. Usually, small dishonesties, small deceits ensnare me. I say, “Yes, I can do this or will” when I do not want to or cannot. I think, so unconsciously it’s not even thinking, things like, “She is aloof. She does not like me?” And, these things are like poison as harmless as they may seem. They come up and back up and I brush them aside each time like cobwebs over my eyes until I’ve dug a hole in my head. 


It only takes a few days now of insolence and ingratitude for the world to turn bleak like this. And, when the world turns bleak the most bleak aspect of the bleakness is the certainty that nothing will be nice again. The self-absorption of ingratitude. 

My spiritual advisor tells me I can “walk haltingly” or even crawl towards God’s will for me which I have self-determined is to be joyful. I was hesitant about this self-determination, but after some years of trying it out, I am pretty sure now. I have self-determined that God wants me to be joyful. 


One Monday morning of late, I was crawling towards it. I wrote the following email:


God, please help me to seek joy, creativity, lightness, light, mirth, laughter, sun, ease, fun, love.


I tried to think of all the words that were the opposite of how I felt. I do not know where “mirth” came from. Mirth means “amusement, especially as expressed in laughter.” It seemed like a new and novel antidote to bleakness.


That previous weekend, my infant daughter had been babbling a lot: 

“da da da da da. ta ta ta ta ta” 

and on like that. I had thought she sounded like a little duck quacking. My father’s side of the family has a peculiar vocalization in most of the males. It has been said they sound like pollos roncos or “hoarse chickens.” Their voices are high pitched but also hoarse and strained. It is most peculiar and some have it to a greater degree than others. The females have it as well but it is less noticeable since women have higher pitched voices to begin with. I was thinking as I was listening to my daughter that she was a little pollo ronco too. 


I had a meeting that Monday morning with a colleague. I started speaking to him about a matter and he had trouble focusing. He told me as much and that I sounded like Charlie Brown’s teacher to him 

“wa wa wa wa wa.” 

I was taken aback by his honesty. I sympathized as well. I told him we could talk later. After that, as I passed people in the hallway at work, their vocalizations sounded like ducks quacking. I thought, “I must be very tired indeed.” But, something inside me also perked up, like a dog lifting one ear in order to hear something better. 


I walked outside for some fresh air and a brisk walk around lunch time and as I walked out of the side alley entrance to the building there was some scaffolding over my head and, by God, there were ducks on the scaffolding who scattered, quacking and flew off. I crossed the street quickly and stood gaping back at the building trying to catch a glimpse at real live ducks in downtown DC. I had never seen any before! At this point, my heart unfolded like a flower with amusement and the singular certainty that I do not walk alone. 


I put my earbuds in, turned on Moby’s “Everloving” and a few blocks later felt like a building splashed 13 stories high as a turquoise wave that would never pull me under. I took a picture of it. 



I write abecedarian sequences

3 replies on “On Self Determination & Ducks”

I’ve never read a post of yours such as this one! It really is quite beautiful and I could probably use several adjectives to describe it. You reveal so much of yourself – unless I’ve misinterpreted, and this is a piece of fiction. If you’ve suffered from depression, I truly hope you’re recovering from it now. It’s a really debilitating thing. And if you now have mirth (and some of the other words in your list) in your life, then you are surely well on the mend.

Liked by 1 person

You amazed me , and I love you so much , in this way I can finally see your insides, all those thoughts that i never hear but I did suspected , you are a very special and lovely and emotional and I am so proud of you

Liked by 1 person

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