Sometimes it’s Hard to be an Eagle

Recently, as I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, I came across a post that really exemplified where I found myself a lot, and I would imagine that you may very well have been here, too at some point in your grieving process. Here is what the post said:

I was waiting in line for a ride to the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing I noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for me. He handed me a laminated card and said; “I’m Wasu, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk, I’d like you to read my mission statement.” Taken aback, I read the card. It said, “Wasu’s Mission Statement: “To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest, and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.” This blew me away, especially when I noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside — spotlessly clean! As he slid behind the wheel, Wasu said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one decaf.” I said, jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.” Wasu smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, lassi, water, and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, I said, “I’ll take a lassi, since I’ve never had one before.” Handing me my drink, Wasu said, “If you’d like something good to read, I have Good Housekeeping magazine, Reader’s Digest, The Bible, and a Travel+Leisure magazine.” As we were pulling away, Wasu handed me another laminated card. “These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.” And, as if that weren’t enough, Wasu told me that he had the heater on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for me. Then he advised me on the best route to my destination for that time of day. He also let me know that he’d be happy to chat and tell me about some of the sights, or if I preferred, to leave me with my own thoughts. I was amazed and asked him, “Tell me, Wasu, have you always served customers like this?” Wasu smiled into the rearview mirror. “Not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard about the power of choice one day. Power of choice is that you can be a duck or an eagle. If you get up in the morning, expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. Stop complaining! Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd. That hit me right,” he continued. “It’s about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So, I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.” “I take it that has worked for you,” I responded. “It sure has, Wasu replied. “My first year as an eagle I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave messages on it.”

Wasu made a different choice: He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles. Have an eagle life ahead!

— Adapted

Wow, I thought to myself. And then, as I thought more about it, I realized that I seemed to be doing a lot of quacking lately. Before my husband died unexpectedly in April last year, I’d made an appointment to talk to a prosthodontist and an oral surgeon about getting a lower denture. It was not something I was looking forward to, but also, not something that I could put off for much longer. Unfortunately, I’d had to wait several months for the initial appointment, which, as it turned out, ended up being only a few short weeks after Brian died. I debated about keeping or rescheduling it, and decided that I probably should go, as it would no doubt be several months before I could get a new one. Even going into the oral surgeon’s office to talk was difficult. My emotions were raw to start with and having to face dental surgery didn’t help them any. I almost cried as I sat in the dental chair, listening to the dentist talk about the process. Added to that was the stark realization that I would have to go through all of this alone… without Brian there. I didn’t want to have all of my bottom teeth pulled. I didn’t want to have a denture for the rest of my life. All of it was an emotional turmoil that I truly did not need. Eventually, after thinking it over for several months, I reluctantly decided to go ahead with the surgery and replacement.

So now, it is a week away after the surgery. . . and I have been pretty miserable. I had a huge pity party for myself, and wished more than once that I had not decided to have the surgery done. I would wake up in the night with my mouth hurting, look over at the empty spot next to me in the bed where Brian should be, and grief would hit me like it was the day after he died. And when that would happen, despite all of my good intentions to soar with the eagles, I heard the quacking start. And you know what? Even though that was not how I wanted to be, not that time or anytime, something inside me said, “Go ahead! Just go there! Be a duck. Complain. Feel sorry for yourself. Feel like you are the only one this has ever happened to! Book your pity party and lock the door! Let the quacking begin!”

But then I would think of my husband. Of how he fought his Parkinson’s disease and never complained. How he knew what the end game was, that the odds were stacked against him, and that there was no getting around it. He knew he would never “get better,” only worse. And, even with all of that, he never complained. He soared with the eagles. And at the moment, the duck in me stopped quacking and the eagle swooped back in through the window. I remembered that the pain and misery I was going through was only temporary. That the end result would be positive. I told myself that every time I complained and quacked like a duck, I wasted precious moments of my life that I would never get back. So, while I still felt miserable, and while I didn’t like any of how I felt and what I had yet to go through with this recovery, I stopped complaining. Mind you, that didn’t mean I liked where I found myself, but it did mean that I had to roll with it, ride out the pain, swim through the waves of grief that were, and would probably still for a long time in the future, complicate my life. It occurred to me that if my husband, and all of the others in this world who are facing down death could be an eagle, then I could too.

Close your eyes and imagine someone who is 90. Remember, what the mind believes, the body embraces. Imagine more.

Mark Middleton http://www.growing

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