Life is all ups and downs, as any lift attendant will tell you (...sorry about that). Life is constant change, as any change consultant will tell you (hmm). And yet, even though we all know intuitively that these maxims are true, we do like a nice moan - that the ups don't last quite as long as they used to, and that the downs seem to be dragging along at a snail's pace, and even that the people we thought were here, are now somewhere else and seem to be having a much finer time of it over in that meadow while here I am in my little soggy corner of the patch.
Even though we know that we're either not going to get our ducks in a row (love that metaphor), or that if we do it will be a fleeting thing, we do spend an awful lot of time trying to arrange things for just the one moment and then trying desperately to hold onto it.
We do like to try and fix things down,
"now if I attach these weights to the ducks, they can't waddle off too quickly".
And if you've never tried to tie hypothetical weights to a metaphorical duck, let me assure you it's no easy feat. Still, if you succeed, and it seems to slow the duck down, you might take an extra step and clip its wings, or feed it a lot, or pen it in, so it stays put. So now, if successful, you have your line of ducks! Sure, you may have been severely pecked at, and the ducks may be unable to fly, under remarkable stress, unable to walk, fat, unhealthy and in a state of deep resentment but, dammit, you have them where you want them. Phew, finally.
But things change. And pretty soon, the appeal of the linear duck arrangement wears off. It doesn't offer the same levity it once did. And then there's the constant badgering by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Metaphorical Animals - who have been buoyed up by their successful prosecution of Schrödinger. The wheel turns.
And yet, we all know that one of the many joys of ducks is that they waddle; that they quack and fly and do their own thing. It's the very fickle nature of a duck (there's a phrase no-one's written before) that lends appeal to their appearing in a line even for just a few moments. It's the very fact that things come together, stick around for a bit and then go, that makes them so beautiful and moving.
There is a Japanese phrase, 'mono no aware' which means an awareness that everything is transient and the rather sweet sadness that arises. It's the sweet sorrow of parting. It's the feeling of the sun setting after a long and playful day on a beach. Watching a blossom fall.
Perhaps the best way to enjoy the flow of things is to stop clinging on. Perhaps mono-no-aware, can remove us from the kind of "I like this, I don't like that" state of mind and so sweeten life. Not easy, to be sure, but perhaps.
Perhaps we could just let the ducks go, enjoy them while they're here and enjoy them while they're gone.
Perhaps we could let our very serious selves go too, just a little.
Mono no aware