One of the most famous classic stories ever told and often quoted on speeches is the story of a swan. Like in a song, if you’ve heard it over and over, it loses its sense. Its meaning doesn’t disappear, though. It’s just how we perceive it that it seemed to lose its meaning. It becomes rather a brain-itch.
In an unprecedented incident, a guy told me about a painting of a white swan swimming or perhaps just floating on the lake. At first, I was like yeah I’ve heard about it…. a lot! I was caught off guard at the moment, so I got no chance of escaping. Later I found out, it was worth listening after all.
The reason swan is often referred as one of the prettiest feathered animals is that it’s simply more than just pretty. Compared with ducks in the Ugly Duckling Story, swans really stand out. They are a symbol of grace and elegance. I often hear people pitying themselves, that they are the ‘ugly duckling’ in their family. For me, the ugly duckling metaphor in this example is misused. Ducks are not pretty in the story, and in real life they are not as pretty as the swans as well. Thus calling a non-pretty thing as ugly negates the effect of the harsh word UGLY. Being called an ugly duckling is therefore a compliment!
Going back to the painting… With the swan’s elegant stature, most people think that a swan is also a symbol of drooping, being too relaxed, laziness or complacency. Beyond what is obvious above the surface of the water, the swan’s flippers are always in turbulence. The swan may have appeared to be relaxed but it is not idle. It is doing something that most people won’t and don’t notice.
In the society, whenever we see an officer smiling and having fun, the first thing that comes to our mind is “how dare this person smile amidst the adversity?” It sounds rude but I guess our minds are addicted of thinking that way. It’s seldom to find someone who’d consider this officer’s gesture a grace under pressure.
I believe I don’t crack under pressure. However, it is not enough to not crack under pressure. When faced with pressures and problems, especially simultaneously, I think I don’t flourish like a swan. I frown a lot. I become like a “don’t disturb me” kind of person. Perhaps I am more like a clumsy swan who in every paddle of my flipper, the water becomes a noisy splashing wave. My anxiety becomes too obvious. I need to work on being a swan!
This guy who approached me is a simple example of a swan. I’ve heard a lot of unpleasant things about him, such as “he talks but never walks what he talks.” Even with the pressure placed on his shoulders and his never-ending personal challenges he has with his family, he seldom loses his energy to make people reminded of a few basic life lessons while making them also laugh, I guess he graces under pressure pretty well.