On Thursdays I take a break from my normal life routine and I cycle into the city for a history internship. I love seeing my town by bicycle; it’s a totally different experience to getting around by car. Just like walking, when you’re on a bike you see details in architecture, distinctive plants, and of course, wildlife. The bike track I follow runs beside a river which is frequented by ducks. This spring, I’ve seen many ducky families enjoying the good weather. I’ve even helped one family cross the road. So on my way home from my internship this particular Thursday, I spotted a precious little baby duck, unable to move when I rode close by it.
As usual, I always check to make sure the ducks are well, and this precious little thing was not. It was covered in crawling ants, shaking its head in discomfort, wriggling, but apparently unable to get up. I searched around for its parents or siblings, but none were visible. I considered leaving it there and coming back in the car, but then I saw a person getting onto the trail further up with their dog and knew I couldn’t leave it unprotected.
I repacked my already full panniers, whipped out my bike seat cover and tucked the precious thing securely into my free pannier. I rode home extra gently, being sure not to go over any bumps. My partner and I wondered what to do with it and eventually got hold of a helpful vet that would see to its care. We put it into a basket and drove it across town. The staff at the vet practice were very loving and empathetic when they took it in. I left my details with them so that they could update me.
I later got a call from the vet to let me know that the duckling hadn’t made it. It had been struck by something, whether it be a foot or a bicycle or a soccer ball, and was suffering from severe neurological trauma. I was disappointed at this expected news, but I was also relieved that I had found the duck and that it had passed away comfortably in care, instead of alone, frightened, covered with ants and out in the elements. I feel that this last part is why I wanted to share this story with you.
I have often wondered, with some of my dearest friends, how this brilliant universe came to produce such perfect little recording devices as sentient beings. Through the heat and violent reactions of the stuffs of space, through the birth and death of stars, eventually our little planet, our little sun, our little solar system all took shape. It was here on this planet that this collection of star dust, like many planets before it, began to chart its own story. A story we know travels along until it finds people, and a diverse array of creatures, all living, breathing, dying. Each one popping up, becoming self-aware, like a thousand little recording devices going on and off. Little micro recording devices seeing the intricacies of the universe, and macro recording devices like people, staring out into the black asking questions, and seeing the universe for a moment. I wonder, are we the self-awareness of the universe? Are we the universe saying that it exists, because these beings are here to witness it?
I often feel that this is so. But more than that, I feel that if we are here, and in seeing this universe are proving that it exists, is not our greatest gift to someone else, to see them? I mean to really see them. Not so see them through the blinkered view of stereotype or the dirty window of judgement, but to see them as a highly complex and self-creating identity. To turn your eyes from the universe, or from whatever micro level of life we are occupied by, to turn to them and to say “I see you.” You exist. I am the evidence. I hold you in my memory. I see you.
What if the greatest value I can add to my life, is what I witness of the universe, before I too return to star dust.
That’s a lot of thought for one little baby duck, but to hold that precious creation of time, chemistry, biology and evolution in my hands, knowing how short that little life was going to be, and to say “I see you, baby duck”, is the measure of who I am.
And if you’re wondering what all of this has to do with fashion pictures, well this image location is Sovereign Hill. The family of ducks that I assisted to cross the road recently is now happily living in the museum, down by the gold diggings section.
Photos supplied by the cyclone of passionate living that is my dear friend Amy. I see you Amy.
Blouse: Modcloth (sold out)
Skirt: Review Australia (sold out)
Location: Sovereign Hill
I hope this post has provoked some thought for you.
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