Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lucky Duck

The V formation greatly boosts the efficiency and range of flying birds, particularly over long migratory routes. All the birds except the first fly in the upwash from the wingtip vortices of the bird ahead. The upwash assists each bird in supporting its own weight in flight, in the same way a glider can climb or maintain height indefinitely in rising air. In a V formation of 25 members, each bird can achieve a reduction of induced drag by up to 65% and as a result increase their range by 71%.[1] The birds flying at the tips and at the front are rotated in a timely cyclical fashion to spread flight fatigue equally among the flock members. The formation also makes communication easier and allows the birds to maintain visual contact with each other. –Wikipedia

Day 28

I was out watching the ducks on the Pecos River early this morning. I watched as one duck would, seemingly without effort, float ahead leaving a "V" shaped ripple in his wake, it reminded me of the "V" formation that ducks fly in and, as usual, I saw the similarities between my journey with alcohol and the duck's. (Yes, it's another metaphor. I swear if I found a dog turd stuck to the bottom of my shoe, I would look for a deeper lesson in it. "Here's your lesson, Blondie. Watch wear your steppin'")

Anyway, the duck in the water reminded me of me when I was drinking. There I was floating on the surface, trying to look like nothing was wrong, I was in control and I knew where I was going while all the while I was paddling furiously just trying to stay afloat and paying no mind to the turbulence I was churning up for the other ducks bobbing along beside me. I didn't care and I didn't need their help, I could do this on my own. And I did. I'd flap and flap and flap and cause quite a ruckus but I'd finally break free of the water and launch myself skyward but I didn't know where I was going and I didn't have anyone to lead me. I would soon tire out and dive back into the water to start my furious paddling again. Every once in a while I'd look up and I'd see flocks of other ducks winging overhead in a "V" formation and I'd watch them until they were out of sight. Way further than I'd ever gone. I wanted to go with them. I was so tired of paddling and I just didn't have the strength to try another flight on my own. I started thinking it would be easier to just let myself sink down and let the water envelope me. But suddenly, way off in the distance up in the sky I could see a tiny speck and then another and then another and then an undulating "V" of specks. Maybe I could catch up with them, maybe I could give it one more try. I started flap, flap, flapping and suddenly I was above the water and winging my way toward the "V", as I approached the other ducks moved over a bit to make room for me. They seemed to know where they were going and the flying was so much easier than it had been when I was trying to do it on my own. But soon I found myself tiring again and knew that I couldn't keep up so I veered out of the formation and dove back to the water. Back to my paddling. But I had made it farther than I had ever made it before and I knew if I followed the group they would lead me where I needed to go. So when I saw the next faint "V" in the sky, I launched myself out of the water and hurried to find my place in the formation, but again I weakened before I got to where they were going, where I wanted to be, and once again I had to return to the water and my paddling. But I kept trying and each time the other ducks made room for me and each time I got a little further. Finally, I realized that every time I got tired I didn't need to fall out of the formation and dive back into the water, all I had to do is move back and let the wings of the other ducks carry me until I was strong enough to move forward again.

Muchas Gracias to all my wingmen and wingwomen out there.

So today I'm just out there doing my best to keep all my ducks in a "V" and trying not to step in it.

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