Angels, Mentors, and Swans
The story of the Ugly Duckling is a fable told to children to teach about our very human nature. It is the story of an “ugly duckling” that was hatched into a nest full of other newly hatched ducklings that bore no resemblance to the ugly duckling. All of the other ducklings were covered in soft yellow down while the ugly duckling was covered with brown feathers. The ugly duckling was larger and looked completely different than the other ducklings in the nest. Even the mother duck who warmed her as an egg looked at her and remarked what an ugly duckling she was.
Eventually, the mother and all of the other ducklings kicked her out of the nest, teasing and laughing at her as she set off on her own, leaving a trail of tears along her path.
She was lonely. She was alone. One day, as the summer was cooling into fall and the ugly duckling had grown larger, she heard a noise above her in the sky. She looked up to see the most beautiful creatures she had ever seen–a flock of swans–and she was inspired and in awe of their beauty. She wished she could be just like them.
That winter, as ice covered the ponds, the ugly duckling struggled to stay warm and alive. She survived the winter desperate and sad. One day, as spring began to melt the ice and snow, she looked into a pond and was amazed at what she saw. She saw a graceful, gorgeous swan looking back at her. Just as she realized that the swan she was seeing was her own reflection, a flock of swans flew overhead and called to her, “Come fly with us.”
With that, she lifted herself from that place of despair, up, up, up, into the sky to finally realize herself and join her flock….
We are not only a part of our given families; we are part of a larger flock of swans. Do we recognize them when they fly by? Do we find ourselves standing in awe, admiration, or possibly intimidation by certain people?
Look back in your life: who are the people who have influenced you, who have pushed you to be who you are now, who without, your life would have taken a very different direction? It doesn’t matter how long these people have been in our lives really—they could have come in like a big bang and left just as suddenly, or they may be the people who have walked alongside of us for many years. And these people may have had a positive or negative affect. Even the ducklings who made fun of the ugly duckling helped her. They helped her by forcing her to find her true self.
“The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
Writing Exercise: Who are the angels, mentors, or swans who have flown into your life? Who has moved you to be that which you are now, to reach beyond yourself? Who has influenced your growth? Is it your children, your husband or wife, an ex-partner, a friend, or merely a passing acquaintance?
Be aware—even people who have had a seemingly negative affect may have actually given you your most profound gifts.
And remember as well, we all have been an angel, mentor, or swan for someone else, and we continue to be. We may never know who that person is or how we have affected them. Bringing this to our awareness helps us to understand the power we all have to either positively or negatively affect all of the people with whom we come in contact.
Stay tuned for next week’s blog, a variation on the same theme that I think I will call “The Story of an Angel, a Hairdresser.”