The Stupidest Thing I Ever Said: The Duck Story
When I told my fiancé I was writing a blog post entitled The Stupidest Thing I Ever Said, he kindly reminded me about something else I recently said that could equally be categorized as stupid. That would be the question: “Why is the water so wet?”
I don’t think that really counts as stupid, though. See, we were at the park on a sunny day, about to toss a Frisbee; I took my shoes off, and when I removed my socks they were wet. It hadn’t rained in days and the grass looked dry. What I MEANT to say was “Why is the ground so wet?”
So, that was really just one word coming out when I meant another.
The duck story is another matter entirely. My friend Natalie kindly reminded me of this today after I had made a trip to the duck pond, as I call it. (A little man-made lake—with a fountain in the middle—where Mallards and Canada Geese flourish and have babies, near an office building across the street from where I work.) It has been a couple of years since this happened and I had completely forgotten about it.
Natalie is a walking buddy and there was one particular street where this duck couple hung out. The people in this one particular house fed them cracked corn or something…Natalie and I saw the couple (the ducks, not the people) several times in front of the same house.
Then one day we were walking on a different street, several blocks away, when I spotted the same Mallards. (And here is where I write like a novelist—and not a very good one):
“Look!” I said, pointing. “It’s the same ducks from that other house, way over there!”
“Sure enough; it is!” said Natalie, smiling.
“Gosh,” I pondered, watching the ducks waddling along, “I wonder how long it took them to walk all the way over here.”
Natalie quizzically raised her eyebrows as she looked at me and responded, “Perhaps they…flew?”
My reaction would have made a good movie moment. Boy, did I feel STUPID.
God’s Honest Truth. I temporarily forgot, even while looking directly at the wings on their bodies as they did the walking waddle, that ducks can fly. All I could imagine, in that particular moment, was them waddling on the sidewalks and streets all the way from Lehman Avenue to The Street A Block Away From The Elementary School.
What’s not so funny (see bubble bursted) is how we limit our sense of our own potential in the same way.
In E-SQUARED, Pam Grout writes that the brain receives 400 billion bits of information each second. It would take nearly 600,000 books just to print 400 billion zeros, to give you an idea of how much information that is. Geez Louise, as my friend Nancy used to say. So what does our brain do? It narrows down and screens to something like 2000 bits of information per second. (Gosh, that doesn’t sound like so much, huh? Yikes!) So what we actually choose to take in is only one-half of one-millionth of a percent of what’s out there, as Grout says. And then she goes on to talk a lot about neuro-pathways in the brain and how we are programmed to think a certain way and only see certain things…and rather than get into that any further I will simply recommend her book. It’s great.
Can I just say, well for God’s sake, no wonder I forgot for a few minutes that ducks fly!
But I’m making a commitment to remember that I can. Maybe not with wings, but with my spirit, my imagination, my heart, thoughts, words and actions.
You do the same, okay? Because I’d hate to see you waddling all the way from Lehman Avenue to The Street A Block Away From The Elementary School, forgetting that you can fly.