How I cope is much the same as being like a duck

How I cope is much the same as being like a duck

In my book Hydrocephalus floating faithfully, I speak about a time where I had a defining moment. It was just after having my first surgery and shunt placement in 2007. I had come back to work after being off for a couple of weeks. Everything felt foreign to me and I felt very displaced. As a morning “ritual”, my then manager (Ian du Preez) would make his rounds to each of us in the team (there was only ever 4 or 5 of us) and say “Good morning“. This would normally end up in a good 10/20 minute discussion, just catching up (not all work-related). We used to have good discussions. The kind that challenges your thoughts, the way the world works or a majority of the time, he would offer words of encouragement in faith.  (I miss those times…)

That particular morning, I was being hard on myself for not being able to do something. I struggled a bit with doing a task, so simple (it escapes me now) but, it was something I had done so many times before. For some reason, I expected to walk into work and just pick up where I left off.  This was the first mistake on my part.  I mean, I had literally just had brain surgery!

It was the start of me realising that my memory and processing functions were failing me. Ian looked at me with empathy and said, “Celeste, be like a duck“. I looked at him a bit confused because I just didn’t know what he meant. He continued to explain that a duck looks so calm and serene on the surface, so in control of themselves and their situation. Yet, what we don’t see, is that they are paddling like hell under that water. I processed this and had to smile as the message hit home. He was right.

How often don’t we find ourselves in situations where we think “I can’t do this” or “I’m not good enough“?

Too often I have done this, despite hearing others praise me for my good work or way of doing things. It could be anything really…work, motherhood, being a wife…life in general. I suppose we all are just doing the best we can and even the most calm and confident person, has moments of being like a duck. It’s not easy, I know, but we just have to keep on keeping on.

I have to admit, that ever since being diagnosed with Hydrocephalus, the advice I got that day in my office, was by far the best advice anyone has given me. So, I thank you Ian du Preez for teaching me the value of being like a duck and formulating a way to remain calm on the surface despite what’s going on inside of me.

How do you cope?  Have you ever felt this way?


  • Christine Cormack

    June 24, 2016 at 9:48 am Reply

    Thanks Celeste. The Dutch have an expression which I like: “Just be yourself – that’s all you can be”. My mother-in-law Riet once said that to me, and it took me a while to figure it out, but it is so comforting to just relax and be the best you can be on each particular day, whether you are feeling good, bad or indifferent. She was a wonderful woman, and we miss her so much.

    • Skyewaters

      June 24, 2016 at 8:07 pm Reply

      I like that too 🙂
      She sounds like a good woman. Thanks for sharing Christine

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