The “Getting Your Ducks in A Row” Myth: Lessons from Life on the Road

One of my greatest joys in life is being up at my rural house upstate, and going for between 4-10 mile strolls over the weekend. I call these walks my “Country Curriculum” because nature, one of the great teachers, always seems to offer up a lesson to me. This week it was my neighbors up the road, the local ducks (did I say rural or what!) that bestowed my greatest learning.

There’s this broken down farm with a whole slew of antique bathtubs that the cows drink from. Dotted throughout the pasture are a large group of quacking ducks. I stop to watch for a few minutes and out of nowhere they start lining up and walking in a row to taunt the cows and try to steal their water. After they accomplish their mission and have adequately irritated the cows, they disperse into their own merriment and anarchy.
Later that day we are driving down the “main road” in town (one store, an inn, a post office, two churches and a defunct gas station) and out of nowhere a different groups of ducks decide it’s time to walk across the road. They do so with such a “diva-tude” as they waddle and quack, sauntering across the road, taking their time, and just assuming all five cars (that’s called rush hour around us) will have to wait. Of course we do.
I laugh because it reminds me that if we wait for our ducks to be in a row before we move forward, we’ll really never get anything done. Ducks get in a row when they damn feel like it and not a moment before, and as soon as they get to their destination trying to get them back in a row is a lot like herding cats: impossible and very annoying for them. So while I’m a huge proponent of structure, tying up loose ends, and keeping focused on one’s goals, one must not fall prey into thinking it is anyway a linear process thus entertaining the myth of waiting for the illusory “perfect timing” to make that first or next right step (something I fall prey to on a regular basis). Whether or not your ducks are in a row, we must move forward ’cause I can guarantee you a minute later they’ll fall into their own crazy self-selected rhythm but you’ll be that much further towards your destination!
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