Duck, Duck, Goose
July 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
The other day I was sitting at the beach watching a group of ducks paddle down the shore. One of them who had strayed away from the group waddled down the beach and then jumped off the sand and into the water. He plopped himself down into the gentle tidal waves and moved his little feet to catch up with his friends.
This all happened so effortlessly that, I thought, wow, that duck is really living in his true nature! Effortlessness is really the tell-tale sign of living in your nature. I love watching animals being themselves, they are just so good at it. I read once that individual animal species actually share a collective kind of being in the world – that ducks, for instance, all conform to the characteristics that one would say is of the nature of the duck. All ducks like water, for example, it’s in their nature to, they share a certain je ne sais quoi that is the duck spirit. Moths are attracted to candle light; rabbits adore grass; cats will catch mice.
Us humans have a more difficult time. There are so few characteristics that can be defined as inherently human, that are shared uniformly among all of those belonging to our species, and that is because, as I was reading, each human being is his or her very own animal.
We are not only sentient beings, but, more importantly, we are also conscious that we are conscious, we are therefore in relationship with ourselves, eachother, and life itself – what some people call God. Martin Buber called this the I-Thou relationship. Judaism talks about individual free will. Descartes noted that because we think, therefore, we exist.
I read once that human beings are universes unto themselves, we have individual natures, but we are not necessarily bound to them. It is our relationship with life and with our consciousness that allows us the freedom that, perhaps, other animals can’t experience.
Back to the individual nature. Don’t we each have traits that have been with us since the beginning of the development of our personalities? Some people are messy, others are neat and tidy. Some love to sing and dance, others love to read and write. Some of us are social, some of us are shy, some love wine, others love tea. I love watching human beings living from inside their true natures as much as I love the ducks floating by. There is nothing more beautiful to watch than someone or something being true to who they are.
That is why I suppose if someone asked me if I would rather be happy or free, I would say that I prefer to be free. When you are free you have so many options! And there is nothing more satisfying than being given the gift of being yourself. Actually, I am not really sure how one could be free and not be happy.