The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 23, 2013

Few blessings come by running away

Keeping the Faith


Editor’s note: This column by the late Bev Davis originally was published March 8, 2003. Davis passed away Aug. 1, 2010, of a sudden illness.

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Author Og Mandino shares the following story in his book, “A Better Way to Live.”

The author’s son, Matt, who was in junior high at the time of the story, brought home a tiny yellow duck. Knowing how much trouble even a beautiful duckling can be, a reluctant father took his eager son to buy lumber to build a suitable dwelling for the new family member.

The duck named Disco moved from a crumpled cardboard box to a fine wooden dwelling painted white with his name clearly printed across the arched doorway. Then came a small pond and a fully fenced duck yard to keep Disco from wandering away.

Although Matt is now married and off with a family of his own, Disco still lives in the same spot with Mandino as the prime caregiver. (Remember how your kids always promised to take care of the new pet and their resolution lasted about a day?)

For some reason, Disco has grown unhappy and quacks loudly, especially when the Mandinos — and all of their neighbors  — are trying to sleep. Although he has a house, a yard and a pond — more opulence than any other duck in his neighborhood — Disco doesn’t like his surroundings.

His discontent isn’t this lucky duck’s real problem, however.

You see, Disco never learned to fly. He has wings and there is ample air space above his fence, but Disco wanders restlessly about, frustrated and disgruntled, not realizing he could rise above his circumstances any time he wishes.

The author’s point is that all of us find ourselves in a similar predicament.

We may not be able to physically move away from troubling circumstances. We may not have just causes for getting out of a particular relationship. We may not be able to quit a job that’s less than fulfilling.

But we can learn to fly.

The motive for that flight, however, needs to be more than a desire to “fly away” to escape our problems. We need to learn to fly right into the storm. There are times we need to hit a problem head-on and plow through a dilemma, learning critical life lessons along the way.

I’m learning that few blessings come by running away. Facing trouble and finding the strength to keep going requires far more energy and self-discipline than merely steering ourselves toward calmer winds.

Wings made of wishes seldom get us anywhere. Wings fanned by determination, perseverance and a positive attitude take us higher and keep us more stable on the wind currents.

Author Richard Bach said, “The gull sees farthest who flies highest.” I believe him. The perspective that comes after a long flight into the unknown is worth the journey, and the trip offers a great exercise in patience.

I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather be the gull with a better perspective on life than the duck wandering around aimlessly flapping and quacking and making life miserable for everyone else.