Ducks and chucks,
The other day, yours truly, a humble duck, went to work in my superhero costume. Why the uniform, you ask? Because I was ducking done with not putting myself first. All I read are self-help books and articles saying that putting myself first is the best way to help the world. If I'm healthy and confident, I make healthy and confident choices, and that, in turn, makes for a healthier, more confident society.
That day, whenever I was asked, "Why the superhero costume, Duck?" I'd reply,
"Because this duck is a self-love duck. What could be more world-changing than that?"
But I'd done some planning too. According to Joel at ComicBasics.com, the top ten traits of superheroes include shapeshifting, super strength, and underwater control. These are the superhero traits that most vibe with me. So, when I arrived at work as my own superhero, I used those traits as goals.
On my superhero day, Swan Juan just so happened to be having a very bad day. He'd forgotten to put in his beak-hole filters in two weeks before and had therefore just finished isolating because of BOVID-19, plus he'd just broken up with his partner Coot Hoot, and to top it all, he was suffering from depression. This meant he could hardly carry out his social networking duties—he's our pond marketing chief, you see.
When he came to my office, which is right on the bank of the pond, his neck was so wilted and his head so low that I thought he might be about to faint. "It's just depression, friend," he told me, explaining the darkness of his week.
"Why not take a sick day?" asked I.
"I think that'll make everything worse," said Juan with a sigh. "I want to keep busy. But how can I interact confidently on Twitter and LinkedInBird today?"
I thought about this. "Would you like something more methodical?" I said. "The sort of thing where you could listen to music on your earphones at the same time?"
Juan's eyes lit up a little. "Totally," he said.
I told him I'd got quite a bit of pond-cleaning to do. Plus the mud at the pond edge was getting very sludgy and needed some carefully placed stepping stones.
"I could do that," said Juan. "I'd like to do that."
"Then allow me to shapeshift," I said, "and do your social. After all, I'm on Instagram every day as you know, and I love the internet."
And you know what? It worked brilliantly. I followed Harvey Guillen on LinkedInBird, and Juan did a great job of my pond duties. Plus he got to listen to Oprah and Madonna, which gave him a lift."
2. Super Strength
Now, this duck is not a weightlifter, so when I first read that super strength is a top superhero strength, it seemed like a stretch. But how am I strong? Emotionally. Riley always calls me their "rock duck." I didn't know how I was going to use this super strength at work, but I told myself I duck-darn would.
Turns out, my CEO Goose Luce had put me on extra pond-sweeping duties, as part of some new pondemic safety initiative. But I looked at my super-long list of duties and felt my heart sink right into my flippers. Usually, I'd have just sucked this new duty up, even though it would involve endless overtime. On this occasion, however, I asked what a self-love superhero do.
The answer came quickly: Say a loving no.
Now, the truth is, Goose Luce is an intimidating CEO. Apart from the fact that she only says the words "Goose" and "Luce," she also has an austere countenance. Plus she has so many feathers you can hardly see her eyes. Even so, today, as she sat at her desk in her pirate hat, and I told her I had far too much to do, I could feel her watching me steadily over. Honestly, my beak was trembling as I said the words, "For the sake of my timetable, I'm going to have to say a respectful no."
It took her a minute. But once she reacted, I saw a glimmer of a smile on Goose Luce's beak, which is something I've honestly NEVER SEEN BEFORE. "Goose Luce," she said. "Goose Luce, Goose Luce, Goose Luce."
Honestly, I was touched. As usual, I had to go with my intuition when listening to Goose Luce, but I was pretty duck-darn sure she'd said, "I'm delighted that you trust me enough to establish this important boundary. I can re-allot that duty to someone who has more time."
And ever since our discussion, when we bob past each other on the pond, we've been exchanging a small smile—it's done my heart (and beak) good.
3. Underwater Control
As for this superhero trait, I'm still working on it. Usually, the only reason I upend on the pond is for a snack. But this whole superhero exercise did get me thinking: Underwater, the pond is a beautiful place full of algae, small fish and various bits of floating plant. But there's also some terrible litter down there. For instance, humans need to snip the earholes on their face masks before dropping them into the duck-darn pond! Reports of ducks getting those things around their necks are making Duck News24 a travesty right now. Then there's also the ducking plastic bags that are always so dangerous for us. Seriously! The quackduckery!
So I decided to do a little something: What if, every time I upended for a snack, I checked the water for these hazards? By removing just one dangerous thing from the water every couple of hours, I could be saving a bird from a sudden health crisis. Plus I'd feel better about my own safety. And what isn't superheroic about all that?
But The Bravest Superhero Activity Is Actually Being Yourself.
So, here's what Riley said to me at the end of the day, when I got home and told them about my superhero day. "Riley is proud of you," they said. "Duck has had a bold and victorious day. But just remember, as a member of marginalized groups, Duck is already a superhero. Just being queer and trans in this world, not to mention disabled, means Duck should give himself superhero status every single day."
And that's the truth, ducks and chucks. Whether you're a member of a marginalized group, or are struggling with chronic pain, or are handling abuse, or have lost someone that's dear to you, or have come from a difficult past, YOU are a superhero, just because you're you.