Be the Duck

Rule #2: Let it roll off your back.

My dad used to grab a coffee every morning from the 7-11 down the street from our house. Like clockwork, here comes good ole Dr. Pitcher clob-clobbing into the store in his boots and slacks. He’d grab a (very) large black coffee, I’d grab a pita sandwich from the case, and off we’d go on our days. He had story after story of things people would do and say when he’d hold the door for them. Men. Women. Kids. It didn’t matter. He held that door out of respect for others.

On one occasion, my dad held the door open for a woman in her mid-thirties. Instead of a show of gratitude for some Southern Charm or chivalry, she said, “I can hold the door open for my damn self!” Now, let’s set the stage here: it’s 7:00 in the morning, this graying man with his “Big Daddy Belly” is holding the door open for you with one hand, hot coffee in the other, and your response is to curse at him.

Naturally, my dad got in the car and was HOT. The irony is that she still walked through the door he was holding for her. He admitted he wanted to let the door hit her where the good Lord split her, but he took the high ground. He just couldn’t believe someone would be so unkind and downright ugly when all he’d done was hold a door open for her. He went on for the about 12 minute drive to my school to drop me off. We said our goodbyes then went about our daily routines.

Later that day, when he picked me up after school, he admitted he had to talk himself down from the major anger he was feeling. He said, “You know, Lil, I was driving to work and looked over and saw a duck in a pond. I watched as he dipped his little head in and out of the water, bobbing for bugs. As he lifted his head, the water would just roll off his back.”

At this point, I was like… come on dad… where are we going here? I was a teenager, so patience was not a virtue of mine.

My dad continued, “The water just rolled right off of him. He didn’t feel it. He didn’t remember it. He barely noticed it. I need to be the duck. When things like the incident this morning happen, I need to be the duck and let it roll right off my back. I can’t let it fester, becoming a poison to my day and my emotions. I’ve got to just let it go.”

Up until his death, we’d occasionally mention being the duck when things were just getting to us. For me, it was mostly about things I disagreed with as a teacher and the educational system in general (blog post for another time). For him, it was usually the small things that came up that now also get to me as a parent (teaching math is so different now) or things similar to the “My Own Damn Self Lady” as I like to call her.

Today’s world is a rough one. That’s no news to any of you, I know. But, I do think we have the opportunity to allow ourselves to be the duck. Let it roll off your back sometimes. Don’t hang onto that resentment. Don’t let things fester to the point that you’re overburdened by it all. I’m not saying to not stand up for things that you’re passionate about. I’m saying let those small things go. They’re not worth it. Someone rude to you at work? Sounds like their issue. Let it roll, baby. Someone cut you off in traffic? Karma is a … well… you get it. Let it roll, baby. Be the duck. And maybe, just maybe, we can all make the world a little better with our wagging little feathered tails.

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