I would like to think his peek-a-boo game was being played with me; deep down I know he was merely doing what is his natural tendency. Now you are looking at the picture as you question, he? Oh, a duck your mind speaks, a large white duck of some kind your certainty. The picture making this little one look so much bigger than his true size. The click of the camera striving to capture him before another one of his dives.
Among many reasons Spring and Fall bring me joy is the visitors that stop on their south or north flights. Our pond always an invitation before many other lakes have released their table top of ice. On this particular day a Bufflehead diving duck stopped to say Hi. Up, down, up, down, back and forth left to right. Though I imagine the pond was his layover to give his wings a reprieve, I couldn’t help thinking he was spending much more energy seeking food to eat.
Of course, in that way that no moment is coincidence and we tend to draw to us where our mind is focusing, my dear for-a-day friend visited to visually reflect my internal pondering. I had been thinking a great deal about people we meet who are playing hide-and-seek, who may be struggling behind their smiles we see. Be kind, the quote reads, for we never know what someone may be going through. How often do we pause to look into someone’s eyes to see if their smile is true?
Lately two words have been crossing my path periodically; invisible wounds that at first, second, or even fifth glance we may not see. I wonder how many strangers we walk by who are injured deeply? Wide-open, tender. raw wounds of worry or grief. Weeks, months, years prior could have been the first slicing. No matter the length of time, the rawness as fresh as if just happening. Yet, we don’t see the gash that needs stitches of empathy. After all, they appear “fine” in their greeting.
As I watched my temporary friend, I imagined he was diving happily. I chose not to focus on wondering if he was lonely. Yet, what if I was looking for a smile and not into eyes? If I could get closer, would I see him give me a look that whispered I’m scared with no one like me by my side? Perhaps he couldn’t keep up with others in his flock. Perhaps he grew tired, and then he became lost.
By the next morning, Mr. Bufflehead had continued on his way. Our pond his sanctuary for only a day. I am going to choose to believe he caught up to the rest of his crew. And I am going to whisper into the air thank you. A messenger to grace my path to remind me. May I always pause, listen, and look to see. I can’t walk in anyone else’s shoes…nor fly with their wings. But I can hold compassion for invisibility.
Be kind, the quote reads, for we never know someone else’s story. Our smile, our pause, and our look into their eyes could be just the “medicine” they need.