Peking Duck is on most guided tours in Beijing, (formerly Peking), China.
But few tourists experience Peking Duck the way I did while living in Beijing.
‘It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.’ – Henry David Thoreau
This Soul Adventures Guide experience started early one morning, near my home in Beijing, Mainland China. I used to ride my bike to a nearby park where I practiced my Tai Chi forms.
During Tai Chi one morning, I became aware of a soft, high-pitched, rhythmic sound. Sort of like small ‘jingle bells’ coming ever closer. Finally, I saw where the ringing was coming from, but I could hardly believe what I was seeing. It was a dressed Peking Duck! Not served on a plate but apparently taking a man for a walk.
I always carry my camera and on this day, I was happy that I did. Above is the first photo that I captured Peking Duck walking through the park.
‘In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.’ – John Muir
I focused my zoom lens of my camera on the duck having a walkabout in the park. It was
a cold day and the duck was dressed for the occasion. In addition to the bells, it wore a red bandana scarf around the neck and pink home-made booties to keep from getting frostbite.
Many tourists visiting Beijing experience a Peking Duck restaurant. But this boundary blurring Peking Duck had broken the ancient Chinese idea of how to treat a duck. This duck was dressed to impress and would not be served on any platter.
As a vegetarian, I was delighted to see that not all Peking Ducks were edible tourist attractions. I giggled with delight and awe. This duck was strutting its stuff and breaking perception boundaries at the same time. Just about everyone who saw the duck proudly waddling along in front of his Chinese male companion stopped and stared in utter disbelief. It was exciting for me to witness this paradigm shit. I was tempted to yell out “Hooray for Super Duck!”
‘Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.’ – Ralph Waldo Emerson
Awareness is not only being conscious of our surroundings, but it is also expanding our consciousness. To be able to see another’s point of view. And be sensitive to the needs of others, including plants and creatures. It is also noticing our own limited perspective and learning to broaden it.
I could not stop thinking about the duck. It amazed me to see a duck leading the way for a human. I decided that if I ever saw the man and his duck again, I’d ask him about his unusual relationship with Peking Duck.
‘We are made wise not by the recollection of our past, but by the responsibility for our future.’ – George Bernard Shaw
The next day I went back to the park at the same time. I hoped that Peking Duck would be walking with his friend again. To my delight filtering through my Tai Chi concentration came the familiar jingle of small bells.
I waited for Peking Duck and her Chinese companion as they came along the path near the lake. I noticed that this duck did not relate to, nor give the ducks swimming along the shore a second glance.
In my best Mandarin, I asked the man about the duck. He explained that he’d been given the duckling when it was very young. It was supposed to become a meal once it was grown. But since the lived alone in an apartment, he kept the duckling with him inside his apartment.
Over time, he realized that the duck was not only intelligent but was also quite a character. As their friendship grew she followed him around like a dog. She even understands certain commands, he explained. One morning as he was getting ready for his daily walk, the duck ran out of the apartment ahead of him. At first, she followed him. But once she knew the route, she took over the lead. She has been walking with him ever since. I love her like she is my child. I even made these booties for her to protect her feet from frostbite in winter. She likes them, he told me.
She understands me and is a good friend. She is also house trained. She has a special place for her toilet. I have learned more from her than I have taught her.
‘The more you like yourself, the less you are like anyone else, which makes you unique.’ – Walt Disney
As the Chinese gentleman talked, he gave me permission to take photo’s of Peking’s spunk and attitude. She definitely had a marvelous, confident personality. As you can see on the photo’s she was indeed quite a cheerful character. It seemed as if she was telling her side of the story and laughing about it. But alas, my duck language skills were not nearly as fluent as my Mandarin… which was limited to conversational basics.
‘Laughter is inner jogging.’ – Norman Cousins
Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else.’ – Judy Garland
I too gained a lot from Peking Duck that day. I grasped the true meaning of ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ (Don’t limit a being by appearance.)
Millions of people have only ever seen ‘Peking Duck’ as something to eat. But one man in a million saw beyond the common perception. He looked with his heart and not his pre-programmed mind and appetite. That man and his duck, have been more instrumental in changing people’s attitude and perceptions than the millions of ducks that have fed people over centuries. This odd, boundary blurring friendship is contributing towards the ascension and evolution of mankind.
The Moral of the story is: Be true to your Self for great heights await your influence. If one humble Peking Duck can create a paradigm shift in attitudes and perceptions, imagine how much more you are capable of?
This ‘Just Ducky’ CNN video clearly demonstrates how the lines between species are blurring. It’s not about a Peking Duck but it will certainly quack you up.