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I got “ducked” on a beautiful night last week. Leaving Cottleville Wine Sellars, my friends and I returned to my Jeep to find a small, yellow, masked, rubber ducky sitting on my door handle. I was at once amused and then a bit nervous as to what it meant. I cautiously picked up the little fellow and read it’s card aloud, “Holy Duck…I love your Jeep! Stay calm and duck on! Share a smile and share a duck!” We all laughed in delightful surprise.
How and why did ducking begin, I wondered? I learned that the idea was conceived by a young woman who was physically and verbally attacked by another individual when she returned to her car because of her American license plate. Presumably, her attacker feared her spreading COVID-19 in his community. She and her friends decided to turn a negative into a positive and purchased small rubber duckies from a nearby store. They tied a positive-vibe message around the duck’s necks and began ducking American-made Jeeps as they encountered them. Out of this small but delightful activity sprouted an entire online community of people sharing their joyful ducking experiences, many expressing how this activity has helped to elevate spirits during COVID-19 restricted life. The purpose of ducking is to spread happiness and community by sharing a compliment and a smile via an inexpensive, simple child’s bath toy. Brilliant and creative!
Fear can lead us to react irrationally, harmfully, and stupidly. Thankfully, God built into us a sympathetic nervous system that pumps the hormone epinephrine through our bloodstream to enable us to react quickly in the face of danger. This hormone gives us a chance to flee for safety, an action that is typically automatic and without conscious thought. However, there are times we perceive fear because of our own thoughts, beliefs, and prejudices. No, we cannot credit the sympathetic nervous system for our conscious, freely-chosen, poor actions during such circumstances. Such was the case of her attacker, who, hopefully, later reflected upon his poor behavior. I am grateful that this young woman could escape and thankful that she had supportive friends who encouraged and strengthened her to move past the ugliness of her experience. She empowered and healed through her consciously-creative decision to spread happiness to others returning to their vehicles.
The consequences of her actions blessed me 901 miles away from her “ducking” decision. I understand that people as far away as Spain and Australia are now ducking Jeeps and sharing smiles. I don’t think she anticipated how powerful and contagious her small act of kindness would be. I doubt any of us can imagine how far our actions, good or otherwise, spread and affect others. As I wrote this short story to share with you, I purchased 100 rubber duckies and 100 labels from two different suppliers. Next week, my sister, family, and I will be ducking Jeeps in parking lots and waving the Jeep two-finger peace wave to passing Jeep drivers. My message labels will also share the following Bible verse:
Psalm 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
I believe this is a great promise we can share and a powerful resource on which we rely.
Till next week!
Dr. Marie Yvette Hernandez-Seltz is the founder of Candescent Counseling, Consulting & Coaching. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and an M.S. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. She has spent the past 15 years studying self-esteem, self-confidence, responsibility, and the effects of environment and culture on the individual.