Transcript of Video:
Have you heard the story of the duck in the bottle? This is a story I heard from my friend Amy Martell. I don’t know where she heard it from and I tried to look up the origins of the story and I haven’t found it. This is a variation on a story you might have heard before, but let me tell you the story of the duck in the bottle:
There’s a woman who is very unhappy with her life. She wants to try and change things, but she’s not sure how. She hears about this guru who teaches people enlightenment. The guru lives up on a mountain. You have to travel there, stay in the village, and climb the mountain.
She decides to go visit this guru. So she does what she was told by her friend to do. She travels to the mountain, she stays in the village the night before and she climbs up in the morning. She knocks on the guru’s door and the guru answers and says “How can I help you?”
The woman says “I was told that you could teach me about enlightenment.” The guru says “I can do that, that’s something I can help you with.” “But first can you help me with something?” She says “I think I can do that.” and the guru says “Great, I have this Duck stuck in a Bottle. I’ve had him since he was a little baby, and climbed into the bottle, and I’m wondering if you can help me get the duck out of the bottle. If you can help me get the duck out of the bottle, then I’ll help you find enlightenment. The woman says, “Ok, let me think about it.”
She travels back down to the village for the night, asks around a little bit, takes a look at the tools in the village, thinks about it. She comes back the next morning with a hook and she says “I think I have it. If we put this hook into the bottle and hook the duck’s neck, y’know animals can get really really tiny. They squeeze, and I think if we can pull the duck out really quickly and he’ll probably be fine.” and the guru says “he’ll probably be fine?”
You can’t maybe kill my duck, or injure my duck. I’ve had this duck since he was a a little little baby. I shouldn’t have let him climb in the bottle but, then he liked it in there and I kept feeding him and he kinda got stuck. But this is my pet duck. That’s not an okay solution.”
The woman says “okay, let me think about it for a little longer.” She goes back down the mountain, she thinks about it for another night and she comes back the next morning with another tool. It’s a hacksaw. She says “You know I think we can kinda scare the duck to the bottom of the bottle, cause I know the duck is very important to you. Scare the duck to the bottom of the bottle, and I think we just cut the top of the bottle and the duck will be fine because he’ll stay at the bottom, and then we’ll get the duck out.”
And the guru says “This bottle’s very important to me too. Maybe you weren’t really listening to me. I’ve had this bottle for a really long time. It’s an heirloom, the bottle was passed down by my family, and I know I shouldn’t have let the duck climb into it. I know that. I don’t want to destroy the bottle either. What we’re really looking for is a way to get the duck out of the bottle but you can’t hurt the duck and you can’t hurt the bottle. Do you think you can do that?”
And the woman says “Let me think about it a little bit more. I still really want to help.” She goes back down the mountain. She stays in the village another night. She thinks about it and she thinks about it and she thinks about it. She comes back the next morning and she says “y’know I really thought about this a lot, and here’s what I came up with:
This is not my duck, this is not my bottle, and this is not my problem.”
and she hands the duck back to the guru, and the guru says “congratulations, you have found enlightenment.” The moral of that story is that it’s okay to want to help people and it’s okay to have problems but when you’re helping someone and you give them a whole bunch of different solutions and possible options and there’s none that work it’s okay to say “you know what, this is not my problem and I’ve provided you with options that don’t work for you and I’m going to give you back this problem and let you solve it yourself.”
In what I do, which is mostly mediation, oftentimes people bring me problems that don’t have a solution, or don’t have a perfect solution. There are oftentimes aren’t ways for people to split up a household and afford the same things in two separate households. Even though that might be what they wanted to do, they don’t want their life to change and that’s understandable but it’s not a problem I created. I want to help.
I provide them all sorts of different options. I talk to people about mediation I talk to people about collaborative law, attorney negotiation, even some people it’s the right thing for them to go to court. But ultimately they get to choose how they want to solve their problem and it’s not my choice. So remember when someone comes to you with a problem, it’s ok to be a helper, and it’s ok to want to help. But at the end of the day, it’s not your duck, it’s not your bottle, it’s not your problem.
So you can help, but ultimately the person whose problem it is has to want to come up with a solution.
Hope that story helps.