Ducks Taught Me How to Enjoy Life

“Can you take me to the feed store to get chicken feed?” my sister asked.

don’t really want to, but sure…” I sighed. Guess it was time to take a break from studying. When we got to the feed store, that is when I saw them.

Ducks. Baby ducks with stubby wings and big webbed feet. “How much are they?” I asked.

Stop Samuel. You don’t need ducks. Don’t do it. You pride yourself in not making impulse decisions

“Five bucks a piece.”

Okay, that will be $10 plus the feed. It is not like money is rolling in right now. Step away, think about…

“I’ll take two.”

What are you doing! You don’t need two ducks. What are mom and dad going to say?

And that is the story of my first impulse purchase. I named one Parsnip and my cousin named the other Petri. Parsnip and Petri. I don’t even name animals unless it is a dog. Now I’m naming ducks. Great.

A month later, one of the ducks (Petri to be exact) got killed in the night by a predator. Mom and Dad turn around and get three more ducks. I ended up naming all them — Parsnip, Petri, Patter, and Pi.

For not being thrilled with my impulse decision, why did mom and dad get more ducks? The answer is simple. They bring a smile to our faces. The ducks waddle, swish their tail, fall over their feet, run with their neck extended, tilt their head like a dog waiting for a treat, and act just overall goofy.

The hardest I ever laughed was when I was filling up a kiddie pool for Parsnip. She got in the pool and started playing with the water coming out of the hose. It would put its head under it, bite at it, flap its wings, and splash around.

No wonder people say, “…like a duck in water.” Ducks act like they are truly enjoying life. Maybe that is why it is so much fun to watch them. We realize that they have something that often feels missing in our own lives.

Joy.

Joy with life. Enjoying every part of life, even if it is as simple as water coming out of a hose.

What could I learn about joy from ducks?

It is a silly question I guess, but here are some thoughts I have been thinking about this week.

Slow Down

I am the kind of person who goes 100 mph (or 160 kph if that’s what you use) on any one thing. Life should be a balance. There are times to work intensely and rest intensely. To go all in and to step out.

There are times to work intensely and rest intensely.

There are times to brew some iced tea and sit on the back porch. And not do anything. There are times I need to set aside moments in the day where I can get lost in God’s Word and not just study for an upcoming lesson.

Finding that rhythm is hard. But if I am always going one speed — fast — then I never take the time to appreciate everything that surrounds me. To take the time to enjoy the simple things of life.

Be Aware

Full throttle and everything is a blur. Pull back, and you become aware of what is going by. What you see might surprise you. What I found was opportunities for gratefulness leading to deeper joy.

There are times to write down what I am grateful for. There are times I need to sit down with real paper and a pen so I can think hard about all the reasons I should be grateful and joyful that day.

What I found was opportunities for gratefulness leading to deeper joy.

Gratitude and joy go hand in hand. Gratefulness causes more joyfulness. Being more aware of blessings leads to more reasons for joy. Maybe it is just water coming out of a faucet. But guess what…that is a big deal in some places.

When you find that life is full of opportunities for gratitude, life becomes more full of joy. It is easier to enjoy life when you become aware of all the reasons life should be so enjoyable. For me, those reasons take on a deeper meaning when I see the Source behind all those blessings. The Sun that shines those rays into our dark world.

Grate(full) = Joy(full)

I want that. I want that for you. I want you and me to be as joyful as those ducks in my backyard. They’re just animals, wired to enjoy splashing in water. But we are not just animals. We have a choice. A choice to enjoy or be joyless.

For me, that means doing two simple things (as daily as I can):

  • Setting time aside to stop my work and rest.
  • Writing down 3 things I am grateful every day in my journal. Paper journal, guys, paper.

In the morning, I try to make time for myself. Make coffee. Read a book. Write in my journal. Then that evening, before I go to bed, I write down my three gratefulnesses. It can be as simple as:

  1. My oatmeal this morning
  2. Instant clean water from a faucet
  3. Socks

And yes, those are all things I have written down before.

These are not hard and fast rules. Sometimes my day will start off bad, get off track, or spin out of control. But that structure gives me direction. Direction to pursue more gratefulness and more joy.

Just like a duck.