duck lessons

Baby Common-goldeneye ducks leaving nest, flying for the first time,

Baby Common-goldeneye ducks leaving nest, flying for the first time,

I write because I forget. The daily oozing of words like perspiration squeezing out of pores on a sultry summer day. Once in a while a nugget worth keeping bubbles up, speaks over the clamorous droning of life–such a  simple word–but often, almost always, due to the lack of attention or pen or scratch paper or the overabundance of self-consciousness–what if I come across as weird, coming to a dead stop and writing?–the thought flits through the thicket of to-do lists and remains uncaptured. And by the end of the day, all crumbled in the sweaty palm of errands and deadlines and tests, whatever remained of the thought is washed-out and bleached, fuzzy half-ideas alongside half-chewed dinners and half-muttered indignations.

I write because the raw thoughts, spat out unfiltered into the vibrating air, would likely land me in a straight jacket that some already think should suit me just peachy. So I write, shuffling and cutting my deck of words. If life is but a game, might as well play your hand right.

The travesty of that seemingly simple, four-lettered word is that we slaughter it with another four-lettered word. Wait. Wait for something to happen, wait for decisions to be made. And the four-lettered words chit-chat and mingle and Chekhov, one of a handful, wrings out the unhappiness of so many lives steeped in so much waiting, asks us through a rheumatic pseudo-intellect, to do something with our lives.

I sit on a wooden bench by the pond and watch the ducks. Sunning, grooming, minding their usual ducky lives. And I wonder, as the sunbeam glide down their glossed feathers, into the water, if I am missing something ontologically. I’ve been reading through Madeleine L’Engle, A Circle of Quiet, and ontology has been my word for this fall. Graduate school had been what I thought it might be, yet simultaneously anything but. Beneath the swan-like exterior is the maniac pedaling, borderline-panic treading water to keep afloat. Grades, acclimation, relationships, self-worth. Every so often, usually after a move, the question comes back: who am I? Am I okay with who I am?

Feeling displaced makes me more keen of living consciously. Ontologically.

And I wonder if this, this awareness, demarcates an otherwise frivolous existence, or worse, one atrophied in waiting. I have had my times of both, speeding along or wasting away. This move to North Carolina was to stretch my brain and social skills and confidence so I have no excuse to do either. But it’s hard to distinguish what I want from what I think others want me to do, and who I am from who people decide I am from what they infer. Ontology gets trampled a bit in all of it. 

I watch the ducks being their ontological selves. The autumn air smells of leaves and sun and silence.


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