Where Can I Help Today?
The Mahanta Offers a Valuable Lesson through a Family of Ducks
Driving to an early business meeting, I had an unexpected and unforgettable experience.
It was a beautiful morning, and I was reflecting on the future course of a new business venture. Although the initial pilot test had been successful, I was still concerned. This new direction seemed such a stretch from my prior career. I wondered if I was doing the right thing. What would be my role in this business venture? Where should I put my attention?
Inwardly, I asked the Mahanta, my inner guide, "Please show me what I need to know."
A few seconds later, as I approached a busy intersection, I was surprised to see a female duck between a parking lot and the street. Six little ducklings paraded single file behind her. They looked like they were out for a morning walk.
I quickly realized what was happening. On the other side of the intersection, there was a creek leading to a river that bisected our small city. Mother Duck was leading her young brood to the river to begin the next phase of their training to become adult ducks. All that stood between them and the creek were two four-lane city streets at a busy intersection in morning rush hour.
I pulled into the parking lot, then jumped out of the car in pursuit of the duck family, wondering if I could help.
As I jogged down the sidewalk, the mother duck instantly became aware of me. She quacked loudly and sped up the pace, veering onto the strip of grass between the sidewalk and the street, ducklings close behind.
As a large truck whizzed by just a few feet away, she hesitated, then edged back toward the sidewalk, barely breaking stride. I slowed my pace and backed away, not wanting to force the family into the street. She continued her determined march toward the intersection. It was clear she wasn't going to turn back.
Putting aside any thoughts of dignity or self-consciousness, I raced out into the intersection in my business suit just as the mother duck stepped off the curb into the oncoming traffic, the six little ducklings hopping into the street behind her.
Doing my best impersonation of a traffic cop, I stood in the middle of the four-lane street and raised both arms to stop the speeding cars. It would have been nice if she'd waited until there was a red light, I thought. But no such luck.
The little ducklings, each no more than a few inches tall, hopped off the high curb. A few fell flat on their faces as they jumped. But then they picked themselves up and continued to follow their mom as if nothing had happened. When they reached the far curb, the scene played out in reverse, as the little ducklings hopped onto a curb that was nearly twice their height. Then they marched across the grassy meridian, and the same scene was repeated on the other side of the road.
Most drivers saw what was happening and stopped to let the ducks pass, while a few whizzed by, narrowly missing our little procession. But eventually, Mother Duck and her ducklings made their way to the creek without slowing down or looking back. I wished them well and walked back to my car.
As I got into my car and started the engine, I realized my entire attitude and viewpoint had shifted in that span of ten minutes. My brief encounter with the duck family was an answer from the Mahanta to the silent questions I'd asked just a short time before.
It became clear that my role in work and life is to help others navigate the busy streets and intersections of life as best I can—even in situations where I might otherwise feel awkward or self-conscious. I realized I had to let go of self-consciousness in order to be of service in whatever circumstances life brings.
I am grateful to the Mahanta for this experience and the valuable lesson I learned via the duck family. Now, when I reflect on my mission and goals for each day, I ask, "Where can I help today?" This has changed my viewpoint completely and given me a new focus for my work and life.
Excerpted from the 2010 Eckankar Journal, copyright © 2009 ECKANKAR. All rights reserved.