It was an ordinary trip to our local Costco (aka “LargeLand”) and I was on autopilot. I was sneaking in the trip before picking my kids up from their daycamp in order to avoid (I’ll admit it) the whining and pleading for anything at or below their at eye level. They would have preferred to go along, but this time, I made it easy for myself and went alone. Crossing everything off of my list, I was feeling pretty satisfied as I backed out of my parking spot, drove to the exit of the lot, and turned out of the lot onto the first road on my route.
What caught me eye as I made the turn was the open, squawking beak of a daddy duck, very clearly showing aggression to me/my vehicle, as I approached the edge of a wetland. To him, it probably looked as though I was going to drive straight into him, his six ducklings, and their mother. Of course, I turned and did not.
I thought to myself, “Sheesh! That was kind of offensive! He was truly barking at me and I had nothing but good intentions. Doesn’t that duck know I’m a ridiculously soft-hearted, animal-lover and would never hurt him or his family?” Silly as it may have been, I was just a bit put out by this and thought it was an unnecessary overreaction on his part.
Then I made the next turn, 30 feet after passing the duck family. What I saw next immediately changed my mindset. Squashed in the middle of the road in front of me was one of his ducklings.
Please forgive the detail, but it was fresh.
What in the world does this ducky tale have to do with anything? How does it relate to anything I normally write, talk, or think about?
The lesson was loud and clear to me. It’s not my wording, but I have shared it with others many times. And apparently, it was time for my own reminder . . .
Always be kind to others. Always. Others are fighting battles we know nothing about.
Reflecting on the experience that night in bed, I made a mental connection that hadn’t emerged until then. I have tended to categorize a particular person in my life as ‘negative’ and ‘closed-minded.’ Seeing her through this lens does her no good. It doesn’t serve me, nor does it help our relationship or interactions to be any more enjoyable or productive. I have no reason NOT to change my perspective of her and focus on showing her renewed kindness instead.
It took the duck family to help me realize this.
For further reference, see Malcolm Knowles’ concept of “unconditional positive regard.”
Also explore “mindset” — a wonderful book on this topic is HERE.