We just bought four baby ducks. I have never even held a duck before, let alone owned one. As a child I had a rubber ducky and would sit in the bathtub and sing the rubber ducky song from the kids show Sesame Street. Looking back it never occured to me that that rubber ducky wasn't real, or had no heartbeat. Funny what a child's imagination can dream up on a whim.
When the ducks got home and I held one in my hand for the first time in my life it occured to me that real vs fake has a lot to do with life, a soul and the soft gentle touch of realness. I started thinking about my relationships with people, with nature and with the reason I chose to move halfway across the country to a place I have never lived before. This word authentic kept popping up for me. Moving from the city to a very rural countryside started to bring images of contrast between what is real and what is not, even though I know in my heart that the countryside has also been marred with mans touch and restructuring of landscape. I couldn't help but think about that darn rubber ducky. Why?
In moments of stress when living in the city, I could escape to the water or a park. I could venture out into what felt like a natural landscape but there was always people around, or noises I couldn't quit understand, such as machines or cars buzzing by. There was never any true silence and there was always a sense of not being alone. With the large buildings rising from the ground and cement sidewalks all around there was never the desire to walk barefooted or a sense of needing to feel the grass between my toes. To get something like that I had to take a bus to a city man made park where the beach was in order to venture into the sand barefooted. As I sit outside on this very sunny warm day in the middle of bum fuck nowhere, I've realized that I have been practicing shoelessness for over a month now and that feels real good. Almost like a healing bath after a hard days work.
But why? I keep asking why? Why does this feel so real, so centering and so at peace?
Again that word authentic came up. With no humans around, I wake in the mornings feeling the urge to just sit in silence outside with trees watching over me (and very large trees they are.) The wind blowing across my shoulders as if to remind me that I am truly here and this is truly real. I never felt that way in the city, and I don't know why. It's all the same wind isn't it? I started to wonder what happens when all beings in the same space have a similar experience and if there was any difference between what I had felt in the city and the other people living there in that city with me. Were we all side tracked with this illusion that the city was actually a real space, a real environment? The contrast to me now being here for awhile is very stark. My mind feels clearer, settled and stronger. The fact that all I can see for miles is grass and trees has led me to myself. At times I can't even believe its real, because it feels so intense. When the mist settles on the grass in the mornings or the stars shine brightly in the midnight sky whispering shallow words of 'we are here,' the sense that this is a dreamscape of huge proportions wash over me like the dance of a melody overtaking my body. One of the last things I said to a friend when I left the city was that that place, that city in which I had been living was sick, the ground was sick and the people were sick and that the only thing pushing me forward was my intuition and faith that there had to be something more solid, more grounding, more real.
Looking back I've come to realize that I too was sick. The city had made me sick without me even knowing it. Made me hard inside and jaded, like a rock falling down a cliff.
I know some folks don't feel that way about living in the city, especially those who have grown up in one. But, there is something truly healing about living in the country where your neighbors are so far away that it feels like you have none. My dog is happier too. She ventures around as if to sniff every rock, every blade of grass and absolutely loves being outside with me all day long. It's also slower here. If that's even possible. I don't feel rushed or panicked that I am going to 'miss something.' Sometimes, I feel so grateful that I start to chant thank you, thank you, thank you. But why???
Like I said before, the only word that keeps coming into my foresight is authentic. I feel like the universe has given me a blessing and a secret that I wish I could share with every human being on the planet. I feel like I have been given an opportunity that not many people get even in one lifetime. That feeling is the gift of authenticy, of the real being made seen and clear. When you grow up in a neighborhood were folks are struggling always trying to make it to the next paycheck or dollar bill just to pay their rent and put food on the table, there is no time for such thinking. There is no time for deciphering between what is real and what is not. No time for contemplating whether the environment you live in is sick or healthy. Whether the people around you are sick or healthy. There just isn't any illusions of what is good for you because everyone is in that space of lack and struggle. Even those people who claim to have it all together with their house and car and 9 to 5 jobs. All are living paycheck to paycheck in a place of unhealing year after year, decade after decade, unable to actually stop and ask the question,
'Is this for my ultimate happiness? Is this for the ultimate good of the world, here what I am doing?'
The rubber ducky vs the real duck? I would rather have the real duck. The one I held in my hands who tried to jump onto my neck and cause me to feel my skin. The duck whose soft cold feet felt wet on my skin from the water it had just been dabbling in. It's soft quack and suttle peck at my chin, eager to wake me from the dream that I had been living in. That baby duck made me feel alive again. It made me feel myself again. That baby duck gave me hope again that I too could be authentic, be real, be at peace in faith that everything happens for a reason and that I could trust the universe to always have my back. That baby duck became the metaphor that I needed in a time of distortion and unreal things and circumstances. Yes, I would always choose the real over the illusion anytime, and that baby duck has taught me a lot in a short amount of time. How to honor what is authentic and how to wake from a decades long dream that our system has kept the majority of civilization under in order to trap us in our own personal delusions of grandeur. I am so deeply grateful to that baby duck for making me woke.