Ducks vs. Swans

In 2012 a friend of mine recommended a book that has done more to change my life than any text I've ever read. "Women Who Run With the Wolves" by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes came to me at a time when I was doing a lot of inner work. It's a rough road when you decide to quit ignoring and medicating nagging fears, do an about face, look them in the eye and decide to change. It has required repairing things from my past, purging old habits and thought patterns, learning about relationships and boundaries and what I need as an individual human being and that those needs need verbal and actual expression. This has all led to my most recent series "Rites of Passage" where I am taking a lot of things that I have learned or are currently working through and bringing them into the material plane because art is healing and restorative.

This piece is based on Dr. Estes' exposition of "The Ugly Duckling" fairy tale in her book. I re-read the entire chapter today as a reminder of why I began this piece over 8 months ago. Have you ever felt that you did not belong, were misunderstood or were somehow born in the wrong place and time? This chapter left me encouraged that it is not the contrast from the families we are born into or the society that surrounds us who dictate how different or abnormal we are or how much we belong. The journey almost every being makes in finding where they belong is essential and all it takes is our own choices and actions to help us find our tribe.

"She may feel like a tormented outsider who belongs nowhere...but what is not normal is to sit down and cry about it and do nothing. One is supposed to get to one's feet and go off in search of what one belongs to" (Clarissa Pinkola Estes WWRWTW)

For me, it has taken lots of failure and stumbling and not belonging and art and going after everything anyone ever said I couldnt do to create a space where I feel I belong...and the journey continues in order to continue to make these choices and not to be martyred by the past or uncontrollable situations.

"It is worse to stay where one does not belong at all than to wander about lost for a while and looking for the psychic and soulful kinship one requires. It is never a mistake to search for what one requires. Never." (Clarissa Pinkola Estes WWRWTW)

One of the most important lessons I have been learning is about relationships. As a slightly introverted and intuitively emotional person, it's difficult to be around lots of people or have casual friendships. Everything for me needs to be deeply meaningful and connected with lots of love and respect and most importantly...communication of feelings. I used to perceive this as weakness. Why can't I dress up and go out with groups of girls my age to bars? Why do I feel like an old lady for turning down invitations for social gatherings, why is the music so loud? Or even worse, to ignore my instincts and self medicate to be able to tolerate situations I was not comfortable with. It is such a relief to realize it has absolutely nothing to do with me. It is simply a difference between individuals and it makes no one more or less than anyone.

"Who would expect a cat to like the water? Who would expect a hen to go swimming? No one, of course. But too often, from the exile’s point of view, when people are not alike, it is the exile who is inferior, and the limitations and/or motives of the other are not properly weighed or evaluated" (Clarissa Pinkola Estes WWRWTW)

Simply, ducks are not swans and vice versa. This has caused me to look at every relationship in a brand new light. If you are fed up and frustrated in a relationship of any kind with friends, family or a lover maybe it means there is nothing fundamentally wrong with you or them, you are simply incompatible making it a no fault situation.

Don't be discouraged if you feel yourself outside of your surroundings, because there are things an exile experiences that an insider will never understand. Keep going in the direction of your passion and you will either meet or create what you need in life.

"It makes a woman go on looking, and if she cannot find the culture that encourages her, then she usually decides to construct it herself. And that is good, for if she builds it, others who have been looking for a long time will mysteriously arrive one day enthusiastically proclaiming that they have been looking for this all along" (Clarissa Pinkola Estes WWRWTW)


I am proud to say that this piece will be a part of an exhibit this Spring with Lindsay Ketterer Gates at 108 Contemporary

Amanda Bradway