FROM THE MOUTHS OF SWANS

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By Athena Karamarkos

I’m not sure what to do,” I said to the male swan standing in front of me. “What do you think I should do?” He stared at me with that passive, unblinking stare that only large birds are capable of. I was in no hurry for a response.

I had come to Caroline Springs Lake with the intention of going for a brisk walk around it to clear my head, but the temptation to sit and rest a while on the grass had proved too strong. And then he had come up and introduced himself. “I mean, it’s fine for you. Once you find your mate, then you mate for life.”

That is true,” he conceded. “We are spared the heartache you humans seem to experience, or the conflict you yourself are now facing. Let me answer your question with another question: can you ever control how another person will feel about you?”

“Not really, no.”

“Suppose you could. Suppose there was a magic spell or a love potion you could give.”

“Then the love wouldn’t be real.”

“You mean because they wouldn’t love you for who you are?”

“Obviously.”

“So you’re saying that unless he loves you for who you are, you wouldn’t want his love, anyway. Interesting.”

“Let me ask you something else – was your life miserable before you met this person, before you had feelings for them?”

“No.”

“Then why are the stakes so damn high? Yes, it would be nice to have those romantic feelings reciprocated, but if they’re not, what would be so awful about getting back to your not so miserable life?” He took a couple of steps closer to me with his webbed feet.

“Don’t you think that perhaps what you’re really worried about is that if he doesn’t want to be with you then this will prove that you’re flawed and unworthy of love?”

“You know, for a swan you are being awfully psychoanalytical.”

“So you don’t agree there’s some truth to what I’m saying.”

“Yes. There is truth to what you’re saying.”

“I bet you two years from now you’re going to look back and wonder why you wasted all this energy.”

“You’re probably right.”

“Maybe the guy likes redheads. Maybe he’s dealing with other stuff in his life right now and isn’t even thinking about getting involved with someone. Maybe there’s things going on with him that have absolutely nothing to do with you. So far, your concerns have come from purely and solely your own mind, have they not?”

He had me there. I sat and contemplated all that he had just said to me. From my peripheral vision I could see a couple walk past me. They pointed to us and said something to each other.

“Just talking through some stuff,” I shouted out to them, and they laughed good naturedly.

“Don’t worry about them.”

“I’m not.”

“And don’t pay too much attention to your other feelings either.”

“I thought we were talking about our thoughts.”

“Both. Don’t pay too much attention to either/or. What will be, will be. Distract yourself. Go do stuff you enjoy with people you enjoy being with. Time will tell what he feels about you. You’ll know what to do when that time comes.” He turned his back to me and started waddling back towards the banks of the lake.

“You’re going back in the water?”

“I’m going for a walk, see if that family over there might give me some of their food.” He paused and turned his neck slightly towards me.

“Try not to create your own misery.” He said it so softly I could barely catch it. “You can’t let love in if you do that.”

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