Wisdom of the Wood Duck

Diane W. Carr

The only thing you can depend upon is that things will change.  Most of us face change reluctantly.  Here are some thoughts on change and courage.

What does courage and change in action look like?  Let’s look at a baby wood duck for an example.

You may know that wood ducks do not nest on the ground but in openings in trees and in wood duck boxes, affixed to trees.

You’re a baby wood duck and all of your life you have been sitting in a wooden box, above the ground, with your siblings, your mom, broken egg shells and duck shit.  The only light your see is a little round hole that your mom pops in and out of, which is light and dark in turns.  You sit there, with your siblings poking you in the eye sometimes, and it’s smelly, but it is all you know.  This is life.

One day your mom goes out and does not come back into the box.  Instead, you hear “Quack quack quack” I’m not coming in anymore. 

“Quack quack quack” You need to go to the hole and jump out.

What, you think, jump out? Jump out where? Leave my home?  You cannot imagine what happens if you jump out through the hole.  What’s out there? Is there anything out there? How can it be better than where I am?

“Quack quack quack” says momma duck.  I’m not coming back.  You stay in there and you will die.

Die? Not sure what that means but it doesn’t sound good.  But this is all you know. 

Slowly, one of your siblings goes to the hole, peeks out and then falls. That doesn’t look good either.

“Quack quack quack” I don’t have much more time.  You need to get out now.
One by one your siblings find the courage to go to the hole, and jump out.  

Soon you are alone, sitting in a box with shells and shit.  Your mother’s quacking is starting to sound further off.

Finally, mostly out of fear of being alone, you push yourself out the hole.  And you fall, flaying your little helpless wings.  You hit the ground. And it hurts.

But suddenly, you take in a whole new world.  World beyond your imagining.  Sights and sounds and smells you had never encountered in your short life.  And there, a few feet away, with your siblings is your mom.  “Quack quack quack” It’s about time.  Now quickly follow me.  You find your webbed feet, that you had never before used, are quite capable of getting your over to your mom and siblings.  You will soon learn to swim, something you could not have dreamed possible and then, even more magical, to fly.  In short, a life unimaginable within the wooden box.

Now life isn’t perfect for the wood duckling.  There is cold, rain, muskies in the lake and foxes in the brush.  But there is a set of possibilities for the duck that would not be attainable in the box.  The box may be safe but staying in there would cause the duck to be stunted and then die.

Change can come at you fast.  It is not always welcomed.  But it can open up new doors and new possibilities that you may not have never imagined.  Embrace change.  It can do you a world of good.