I love my morning walk with my dogs, and I am often inspired by nature. I vary my route around the local woods so I can see all aspects of the woods. My focus as I walked around today was on the swans and their habits. Over the years, I have counted many swans. And watched as they go through the changing seasons evolving from signets to the swans that are a beautiful sight to behold. Over the years, it seems there are less and less staying around this area. So it is no real surprise when I counted just two together. This elegant looking pair were out in a freezing environment and were eagerly foraging for food. However, the food was in relatively short supply as much of the lake was iced over, making it difficult to access. I stopped and observed for a while.

ducks on body water

There is an adage about swans that I particularly like, and that is the swan is graceful on the top and paddling like mad underneath, how does this translate to everyday life, let me explain. All things being equal a swan has the appearance that everything is gliding along, it doesn’t show the work it is doing to make this appearance a reality. The swans that I was observing were in a relatively small area not precisely by size, but by the obstructions, in their way, they were surrounded by stable icy patches. They couldn’t come and go as they pleased because of these restrictions to access food: plan b was needed. I watched the swan intently as it surveyed its surroundings, there were people on the bank, and they were throwing bread into the water for the swans to feed. However, to access this food, the swan would somehow have to navigate its way over the ice to reach a patch of water to get its reward. Under normal circumstances, it would just glide along a water feed stretch and then return to its normalities. The swan hoisted itself out of the water and onto a patch of ice and warily tested the surface to see if it would support its weight. In some places, it did and in others not so. I could sense the swan’s discomfort as it struggled to get a foothold on the ice, but it managed it all while keeping its focus on the food’s reward. It was nearly there, then the ice broke, and the swan splashed into the water, it was now back in a place of comfort, something it knew, it moved freely in this area. However, progress was being made to reach the food it had to yet again come out of its comfort zone and cross another patch of ice. Having learnt lessons from the previous patch of ice, it began the tentative process of getting out of the water again, this time it slipped and slid towards the next patch of water, finding its food source and claiming its breakfast. After a good feed, it reversed the process and ended up back in its safety zone of the water. The whole process only took a couple of minutes, but it was enough to draw parallels with the human condition.

As a person the majority of the time that we are in our environment or comfort zone, we can set goals and achieve them without really thinking of the effort that has been put in to make these achievements possible. The outer/surface appearance is composed, and together, there is no need to look beyond that. As life has a habit of doing a change of circumstances may well be thrown at us. We are then made to step out of the comfort zone as the natural environment has been changed; we are no longer familiar with our surroundings. Life must carry on, a period of new assessment is needed, now we have to look at the amount of effort we need to make our goals a reality. We need to look below the surface, what it takes to make things look comfortable again, and how we will apply all this whilst being in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable place. I look at this way progress is progress no matter how small the steps so I say keeping the focus on the result is key to making that progress. Look around you, is there anything of familiarity that can help you through this period of change, is there anything that we know we are naturally good. Now we have a starting point, take your first faltering steps, step bravely into the unknown, pause if necessary, reassess things, reassure yourself that you are making progress. Remember that you are continually learning new lessons.

Keeping the end goal in mind should help you start to notice you ARE navigating the icy patches of life. At times know that you may even fall through them, but that’s life. Eventually, we learn, make progress and take the steps towards our rewards. We can then collect our feed, and then it is time to turn back to what we know and reflect on the actions taken to move us forward. The journey itself may well have been challenging, but the destination was the reward.

asphalt road through cactus fields in mountainous valley

Worth the Journey

As we look at life, we can take a lot from our journeys if we take the time to look, both successes and the slips through the ice can be equally inspiring. Each journey we take, we return wiser and more prepared for the next one. We can and do adapt to all circumstances, and we will survive. Knowing that the smallest steps can often be the things that make the most significant difference is enough to keep me striving on. My message to you all as I leave these jottings is keep going, keep striving for better, step out of your comfort zone because I believe success is within our grasp if we put in the work. Be graceful on the surface and paddle like buggery underneath. You are your biggest asset, so invest wisely in yourself.

Good luck in your quests and happy gliding:

Rick Paul

Rick’s Website

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