The White Duck was, on the surface, lonely. She was not vicious, stupid, or bad in any way. She was just different from the rest of the ducks. It is not known whether it was the colour of her feathers, or lack thereof, who set her apart. Even though I am skeptical to that, it surely didn’t strengthen her case.
The others would initially tease her about the white feathers, since they assumed she thought she was special and better than them with their murky, brown patterned shrouds. “She’ll surely not last long out there”, they would say. “Any hawk would take her ﬁrst, she shines like a piece of glass! Good riddance”.
Ducks are, by the Good Nature, living together with other ducks. You seldom see them walk around lonely on a yard — if you see one scouting with a tall neck, you can be sure the other is close by in the bushes. I am not sure how a duck would behave if it was being the sole duck on a farm. I do not think anybody knows that, since it has never happened. “We’ve always been together, that’s the way it should be”, said Richard.
Richard — who was the leader duck at the time — was, as most male ducks are, grand, beautiful, and had a blueish hue on his neck. His main duties did not include too much except for scaring off intruders and predators (the last task was, as you can imagine, something no duck had ever succeeded in). He was however a clever duck (also very unique), and even though he had never travelled outside the borders of the farm, he thought he knew how the world and universe worked, as Good Nature itself had told him. He respected Good Nature very much. But above all, he respected and treasured the “duckumity” – a community of ducks living together on a farm.
A duckumity was to its core consisting of warmth, friendship, routine, sharing, cooperation, and ultimately love between its member ducks. All ducks had forever lived in duckumities — even if there were just ducks in pair or a group of eight. It was said that in the beginning, ducks were actually roaming the earth alone or with a partner — not in groups at all. Modern ducks of course found that silly and unrealistic. They could actually not begin to think of how it would be to break away from a duckumity. It was like trying to imagine a new feather colour.
The White Duck roamed on the farm: explored its borders, stayed out late in the evenings, befriended the shady magpies and mice. They had in the passing mentioned the existence of other lands, outside the boundaries of the farm, and even beyond the farm next to this. Even though the White Duck was a very forward thinking and open minded duck, she had initially troubles understanding how there could be other lands, where the animals would not look like they did here. They even spoke another language! But after a while, a seed in her heart was growing. A seed with a promise of exploring and experiencing something beyond the farm.
When the White Duck spoke her mind about these things with the duckumity, Richard would get so upset that he would scare her away from the group in that silly way only ducks can do (put the beak down and charge towards the target like a bull. It is not known if the ducks truly believes they are bulls by doing this). But the White Duck was special in this case: she would not get disheartened or put down by the treatment of the others. She was alone, but she found a certain … calm in the solitude created for her. She would toil on in the bushes and grass, never complain, and come home every night with her white feathers soiled by the dirt splashed up from the rain.
One day, the duckumity confronted the White Duck, since her behaviour had become extremely obnoxious and repulsive. She spoke about a “constant life on the road, not having a home, meeting new ducks every day”. Richard, who was by all means not evil or vicious in any way, decided to take up the argument with her once and for all:
“My dear White Duck. Nobody of us in the duckumity can comprehend why you would possibly want to leave this lovely living arrangement we have here on the farm. We have everything we need. When you’re alone, you can quack with a fellow duck. When you’re sad, you can seek advice of a fellow duck. We’re all in this together, don’t you see? Whenever your soul is weary, when you can’t waddle another waddle more, don’t you wish to seek the comfort of your friends?”
“Well, Richard. Foremost, I haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing the things you describe, just because I’m different from you. In fact, you have alienated me even more with your behaviour, leading you to hate me even more. You despise me and what I stand for, and I pity you for that. I absolutely see the positive aspects of a duckumity. I too see potential for love and family, and what good that may bring to my soul. But I just can’t stand staying here knowing that something else is out there. And that is where you and me differ: you can live with that, I cannot”.
“But why are you so desperately seeking this ‘something else’?! What’s wrong with this farm? What’s wrong with us? Who are you going to talk to when the going gets tough? It might be exhilarating in the beginning on the road, but mind that you have no duck apart from yourself out there. No duck to share your happiness or sorrow with. No duck to share the burdens of life with. Here, you can do that. Don’t you see that it’s not reality unless it’s shared? The reality you think exist out there accounts for nothing”.
“Because I will be able to contribute to the duckumity so much more if I seek the unknown now, while I’m young and strong. I don’t want to sink into the safe cradle of age, with my thoughts being set in stone, without challenged my way of thinking. Without exposed myself of thoughts from other ducks out there – ducks who’ve seen things I have not, or perhaps even look like me! I’m not different because I want to, I am different because I need to. It’s not about leaving this duckumity — it’s about arriving in my own inner duckumity. It’s my own responsibility to to everything I can to get as many perspectives on life as I can, before I do something evil, like making decisions without context, judging a fellow dock without empathy, or carrying malice towards sparrows without even talking to one”.
Richard, who as previously mentioned was quite clever, did in this moment get a glimpse of a beak of how the White Duck reasoned. There were no black and white feathers here. Richard and the others could not judge the White Duck because of her angst to see more of the world. “Quack and let quack”, as it was said amongst ducks. He felt somewhere that she understood what Richard meant and loved with the duckumity, but that she actively chose something else right now.
“Right, White Duck”. I cannot say I share your world view, perhaps I never will, but my sincere opinion is that you should go away from here, instead of being miserable at the farm. If you’re away long enough, I have the chance of preparing the others for hearing your stories when or if you return.
The White Duck understood the hidden blessing and “Good luck” in Richard’s statement.
She set off in the morning the next day.