POEM: Getting Your Ducks in a Row

I once put all my ducks in a row
Only then realizing
What am I doing with all these ducks?!

Getting one’s ducks in a row is an idiom or metaphor that most people are familiar with, that we should get our in order.  The twist in this poem is a reversal of the typical order that my takes.  In this short poem, I take a common phrase that is not intended to be taken literally, and then take it literally.  Predictably, this leads to , and the ensuing absurd question of what am I doing with all of these ducks.  Of course, the absurd question is actually a question intended to jar one into a realization that getting one’s in order is not always the most important thing in the world, though it often seems so.

Perhaps ironically, the pervasive idea of getting one’s ducks in a row, getting one’s in order, can be a stagnant or deadening proposition that actually kills a higher order in our lives.  is messy.  Like said, “ is what happens when we’re busy doing other things.”

The question here is not whether one is for order or against order.  The question here is one for a higher order or a lower order.  Increasingly, my experiences in lead me to believe that one of the most fundamental issues is achieving some clarity about following a higher order over a lower order.  Again, this does not negate the value of lower order stuff, it simply puts it in its proper place, puts it in its proper .  Given that lower order stuff is typically more clear, concrete, and easy to see, it is little surprise that we give an inordinate focus to such things – they capture our attention (and us).  After experiencing many dis-orders in my , I have come to the realization that the best way to reorder my around those things which are most important, those higher order things, is to practice .  What I mean by this is that I need to be aware of those relatively few things in that are most important to me.  Combined with an actual commitment to these things, then I can use these few important things to better order the many lower things.  More simply put, the higher should lower the order, and a few more important things should order the many less important things.

Another major reason that I see lesser things getting a disproportionate amount of attention versus greater things, is a common confusion regarding what is urgent versus what is important.  Our value is seen as an indicator of .  Also, is a way to avoid being seen as engaging in a cardinal sin of our , which is .  I think this confusion leads to a systematic bias that often runs over truly important things in our lives.  Given the attachment to , actually becomes a surrogate for urgency.  Thus, the confusion between urgency and importance.

Now, actually, there are many things in life that are both urgent and important.  These are the most important things to which we should attend.  However, there are many, many things that seem urgent that are not really that important.  Likewise, there are many things that are very important but do not seem very urgent.  I believe it is in these very important things that do not seem very urgent that we get lost.  The Achilles heel here is that attention to these most important things that don’t seem very urgent, requires a more relaxed , a broader in relation to .  Most great things in life require a substantial investment of .  Also, most things worthwhile require some effort on our part.  But let me deal first with the issue (the most important thing here).  This gets back to the issue.  Our reinforces the notion that relaxing our views about urgency is somehow .  If you are not dealing with the commonly accepted stuff that is seen is urgent, then you are viewed as .  This is not necessarily true.  Now, while truly people don’t deal with what’s in front of them, whether it is urgent or not, important or not, to deal with the important but not urgent things requires some way of being that is neither characterized by mere nor .  This is the difficult of dealing with the most important and often most overlooked stuff in our lives.  It takes a great amount of discipline and to slough off the avalanche of seemingly urgent stuff in our life in order to attend to the most important things.  In fact, it is this lack of developing such discipline and boundary setting that is the more important and urgent form of to address.

Laziness is definitely an issue.  This gets back to the issue that most things worthwhile in our life require effort on our part.  Being fully human requires a lot of effort.  This requires that we overcome a certain inertia in our lives.  The , the way things are, has a certain stability, momentum and inertia to it.

If we keep going the direction we are headed in, we will probably end up where we are going.  However, equally true, the past is the best predictor of the , but if you use the past to predict the , you will always be wrong.  Or more eloquently put, by , “Prediction is very hard, especially when about the .”  This is because people are not billiard balls.  People are not simply determined being.  People possess .  People are subjects, not objects.  Certainly, as long as people are involved, predicting the with complete accuracy will be impossible (actually, this is true for so-called “things” as well; this involves a discussion of the inherent probabilities necessary to understand quantum , which I will gracefully save for another day).  This is the way it’s supposed to be.  This is not ; this is simply uncertainty.  This is the way the is ordered.  This is a higher order, not to be subjected to a lower order.  This takes us full circle, back to our zealous clinging to stuff that is more concrete, seemingly certain.  Our felt need to substitute certainty for uncertainty plays neatly into the hands of confusing the urgent and the important.  Life is uncertain.  If life were not uncertain, it would not be life.  If life were not uncertain, then life would simply be a quest of everything and then being ordered (notice the use of the passive voice, and the same language that we reject often from the bosses in our lives) by the ultimately determinable (that which can be reduced to certainty).  This would inescapably lead us to our endgame of being all-knowing and totally impotent (not free).  If this strikes you as a concept of that is rejected by the vast majority of humanity on this planet, then you must be paying attention.  This so-called that so many people legitimately reject, is not , but the vain and enslaving-ourselves project of trying to be ourselves.  Neither can be reduced to simply “everything.”  is more than “everything.”  This concept arises out of the paradox of and , the difference between subject and object.  In this case, the difference between people and things, and between and “everything.”  I that I’m not getting too far off course by getting straight to the of the matter.  If you want some additional commentary on these matters, and subjects, I would suggest browsing scientific reductionism.

So, now that I have put all of my ducks in order, I can get beyond the whole “duck” thing. In the end, for all this to well, this means having our lives ordered in a way that is consistent with what we consider to be the most important, then we must actually know what is the most important stuff in our lives.  Do you know what the most important things in your life are?  If so, I would suggest that you make a list of such things, and while doing this may be of the utmost importance, I would recommend that you take your to get it right.

Now, if you really want to blow your , and perhaps blow the lid off your , I recommend meditating upon this poem from the Sufi :

A good gauge of health is to write down
the three things you want most.
If they in any way differ
you are in trouble.

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