More and more, I believe that all we need to know about life, we can learn from the birds. For instance, did you know that ducks are waterproof? Really. But more on the at later.
First, let’s talk about how hard life can be and how people can be very mean. It’s true. You know it’s true. Don’t deny it. There are days when you walk out of your office, church, school, or home and wonder if you can ever return.
People say hurtful things. 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. I can only assume that their own pain must require this kind of pitiful response. But it’s sad. It is sad for them and for you. Living in this atmosphere, day in and day out, can become debilitating and life-threatening if we don’t protect ourselves.
Here’s were 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 amazing adaptation produces a special oil that the ducks use to coat their feathers. This oil, once applied to the surface of the feather, creates a protective barrier that keeps out the harsh water and life-draining cold temperatures and helps trap in their own life-giving body warmth.
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 preening, the water will seep into the downy feather layer and make it impossible for them to survive. Their own self-maintenance saves their lives.
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 from time to time?
When did you last spend five minutes in solitude? When was the last time you self-spoke words of encouragement? How long has it been since you spent time looking at art, walking in the woods, knitting, laughing, singing at the top of your voice? Pet a cat. Walk a dog. Eat a good meal. Drink a fine wine. Smell a beautiful flower. Hug a good friend.
In short, preen. Take time to take care of you and in the end, the vitriol of others will simply roll away, like water off a duck’s back.