The journey around the extremities of the park took the man a little longer these days. It was a path well trodden, but now that his joints were somewhat less fluid and his muscles not quite as robust as years gone past, it did take him a little longer. Mind you, the elixir of fresh air and gentle sunshine did his spirit no end of good. The walk was his daily ritual and continued to serve him well. He did enjoy the trek, particularly when he reached the lakeside. Often he would pause to reflect upon areas of his life – some that were pleasant, others that were painful. But overall, the man was content with his lot and could count his blessings as many.
He took time this morning to sit on the park bench and watch the ducks at play and travail by the water’s edge. His attention was even drawn to the V-formation of newcomers as they flew down to join their comrades and feast amongst the lake’s bounty. He even noticed how the noisy gabble of the now burgeoning hoard seemed to augment as the new members became acquainted with the old. He didn’t speak duck, so he couldn’t figure the meaning, but they all seemed to get on quite well.
Then, in between the noisy gabble, he heard another sound. It seemed to come from behind the large tree just away a short distance. It sounded like crying. Compelled, he went to investigate.
The source of the anguish, he saw, was a young, slightly built lad, not much older than his own grandson and about the same size. Tears had rendered the boy’s cheeks into rivulets the dust of which was smeared by the back of his hand.
“What on earth is the matter, young fellow,” he asked in empathy. “It looks as if your world has fallen apart.”
The lad lifted his eyes to look at the older man. He even tried to mouth a few words, but the only sound he could make was a gasp as his wrenching chest stopped any words reaching his vocal chords. The older man did not press the matter into urgency. He merely sat beside the youngster and waited patiently until the tears ceased to flow.
“Now, young man,” he said when the first opportunity presented itself, “what seems to be the problem? What in life has treated you so badly that you feel such pain?”
“They won't let me on the team,” he said as tears once again threatened to escape. “They said I wasn’t big enough. They said that I wasn’t strong enough … but they’re wrong. I know they’re wrong.”
With all the older man’s experience, he did understand the nature of the problem, but it took some quiet moments before he replied.
“Come with me,” he said to the lad as he offered him his hand to rise, “I want to show you something. The lad took the offered hand and was lead back to the park bench.
“What do you want to show me,” said the lad as they both sat down.
“Wait,” was all the older man said.
A few minutes passed before the noisy gabble announced their arrival. “Look,” said the man as he pointed to the V-formation of incoming new ducks. “There, do you see them?”
“Yes, of course, but they are just a squad of ducks.”
“Oh, my boy, they are much more than that,” replied the man with a smile. “Did you know that when ducks fly in formation they have 71% more flying range?”
“No,” said the lad in evident surprise.
“And did you know that when every duck works together towards a common purpose, they actually do less work, but achieve more?”
The boy’s eyes lit with excitement. “No, I didn’t know that either.”
“Well, yes, and when one duck gets tired or losses strength another takes its place in the formation.
“Wow,” said the boy in awe.
“And do you know what that really is NOT my boy,” continued the older.
“Huh,” was the confused reply.
“Well, that is NOT strength … it is POWER, the power to lead, the power to play your part, the power to help your teammates when they tire or strike trouble. That is what is what being on a team is really about.”
The young lad’s mouth hung open, but he was again unable to form proper words.
“Now,” continued the man, “I want you to go back to your team. I want you to tell them how powerful you are. I want you to show them how you can play your part. I want you to help your teammates when they tire or strike trouble. Then, finally, I want you to realize that even if you are small, even if you do not have the strength of another, you are and always will be POWERFUL.”
At these words, the young man felt the power of a divine wind blow through his heart and into his being. It felt as if his heart would burst. It was all he could do but mumble a few words of thanks to the old man as he sped off to join the team.