To Be a Duck

I was awakened on this snow day out of the office by a call from The Home Depot.  It seems the estimate for new countertops was off by a whopping thirty-three percent – a difference so dramatic and unexpected that I became instantly alert and annoyed.

“Am I locked into this?”  I asked with irritation clear in my voice.  She said I wasn’t, and I could call the suppliers if I wanted to make changes.

As I wrote down her name and telephone extension, I realized that I was upset about something relatively minor.  Either I could get the cost reduced by changing my choices, or I could pay the balance quoted straight out of my tax refund, without going into debt.  It was more than I wanted to spend, more than I thought I would have to spend, but at least I have it in the bank.

There was no need for me to subject anyone to my irritation.  She was just making the phone call her job requires her to make.  I wasn’t rude or surly, but I didn’t have to be so unquestionably out of bounds for me to be aware – almost immediately – that I was overreacting, however slightly.

This is the mental and emotional effect of my fall from grace with Sifu, the part two to yesterday’s elation with the positive physical effects:

I was not mindful that my obsessive training in the guan was bothering the head of the school.  I was not aware that how I communicated being hurt by his lack of praise at my tournament success made him unwilling to care that I was hurt.  I’ve decided to pay more attention to the subtle reactions of others and to my own, how they’re communicated and how they are not.  And it’s working much too well.

I’ve been uncomfortable often in the last couple of weeks, seeing many traits that I’ve always intellectually known are a part of me, but didn’t clearly see in action: impatience, selfishness, sense of entitlement…. Did I mention impatience?

Talking about all this alone at dinner with the adult who loves me most, I confessed that I may not be all that nice a person.  She quickly dismissed that notion, as a biased person would, and told me that what she’s seen for the last dozen years is that I’m a nice person who needs to let more things roll off my back.

“You don’t need to learn how to be a nice,” she said.  “You need to learn how to be a duck.”

It’s the significantly more challenging effect of the fallout with Sifu, but I’m doing my best to embrace it.  In fact, it feels more like it’s embracing me!

About T. D. Davis

Baker and former journalist. View all posts by T. D. Davis

2 responses to “To Be a Duck

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