Could Becoming an Imaginary Duck Change Your Life?

The following interview is with someone who normally wouldn’t be doing an interview at all.  He is a thirty year old US citizen with a degree in marine biology, piloting a beautiful ship in the tropics, and has a beautiful, smart girlfriend. He is handsome, capable, talented, and smart.  He did this interview to appease his girlfriend, who wanted to have him share his feelings more in their relationship – a pretty typical request from women!


At some point in our development we tend to slow down, stabilize, and pretty much stop. Incentives to grow are matched by powerful personal and social reasons to maintain the status quo. For this lover of the ocean and its inhabitants, that has occurred at somewhere between personal and late personal stages of development. Typically, growth doesn’t start up again until later in life, when attention normally turns away from career and raising a family to wondering, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” So can IDL dream yoga be helpful to someone who has an external focus and who is healthy in the eyes of the world?


You may see a lot of yourself and people you love in this interview.  Comments follow.


What are three fundamental life issues that you are dealing with now in your life?

1 The future! Reaching thirty this year. Am I on the right path here?

2 Where are Angel and I going? We have divergent school options. We have been together all the time for three years.

3 My family life is taking a downturn. I’ve always had a loving and supportive family. I am worrying about my father who is approaching seventy. He has been away since divorce when I was five. He is trying to play catch-up.  I worry for his sanity and health. I feel guilty for not spending more time with him. There’s some bad relationships…

Which issue brings up the strongest feelings for you?

The future! Anxious-disappointed that I lack the motivation to find some path to follow instead of settling for whatever pays the bills.


If those feelings had a color (or colors), what would it be?

Black and brown


Imagine that color filling the space in front of you so that it has depth, height, width, and aliveness.

Now watch that color swirl, congeal, and condense into a shape. Don’t make it take a shape, just watch it and say the first thing that you see or that comes to your mind: An animal? Object? Plant? What?

Duck – Mushroom


Now remember how as a child you liked to pretend you were a teacher or a doctor?  It’s easy and fun for you to imagine that you are the shape that took form from your color and answer some questions I ask, saying the first thing that comes to your mind.  If you wait too long to answer, that’s not the character answering – that’s YOU trying to figure out the right thing to say!

Duck, would you please tell me about yourself and what you are doing?

It’s hard to see me because I’m dripping in this black-brown mixture, not smelling too great and I don’t have many friends….

The duck was smiling. It had teeth…

I’m behind Mako, following him.


What do you like most about yourself? What are your strengths?

I don’t think I like anything about myself.  I don’t have any strengths.


What do you dislike most about yourself? Do you have weaknesses?  What are they?

It’s kind of depressing to be an ugly, filthy, flightless duck that waddles behind fairly listlessly. Not much to be proud of… I’m a pretty self-critical duck.


Duck, you are in Mako’s life experience, correct?  He created you, right? What aspect of Mako do you represent or most closely personify?

Probably all of his insecurities and short-comings. What he feels is on the inside instead of the bright, confident young man that he appears to be.


Duck, if you could be anywhere you wanted to be and take any form you desired, would you change?  If so, how?

I don’t have any problem being a duck.  I can can fly and be at home on the water.  I don’t like being brown and black.  I would like to be blue with silver trim.  Spend some time far away that I haven’t seen, spend some time at home.


(Continue, answering as the transformed object, if it chose to change.)

Duck, how would you score yourself 0-10, in each of the following six qualities:  confidence, compassion, wisdom, acceptance, inner peace, and witnessing?  Why?

Confidence: 8.5 Nine and ten are an “A.’ 8.5 is well above the mark and not be so high as to be a complete idiot. Too much confidence can get you in trouble!

Compassion: 7 I can have compassion to a degree and I cannot tolerate some behaviors.

Wisdom: 8 I’m not the wisest of the wise but I’m not a chump. Acceptance: 8 I’m not as accepting of myself as I could be. I’m higher in accepting others.

Inner Peace: 7 I sleep fairly well but am not the most at peace duck. Witnessing: 8 I’m pretty good at not getting sucked into hoopla and bullshit.

Duck, if you scored tens in all six of these qualities, would you be different?  If so, how?

Probably more patient, did not fly off the handle as easily; a duck that could roll more with the punches of life rather than punching back…


How would Mako’s life be different if he naturally scored like you do in all six of these qualities all the time?

He wouldn’t be as worried as he is these days.  He would have the self-confidence and wisdom that I do. He certainly has the tools to be all right.


If you could live Duck’s life for him, how would you live it differently?

I would make him speak up more, get his feelings out, not hide them or hide from them.  He puts on a poker face and doesn’t really let anyone know what’s going on…I know when not to offend or harm others with my feelings but…I would want him to have all of my strong qualities.


If you could live Mako’s waking life for him today, would you handle Mako’s three life issues differently?  If so, how?

1 The future! Reaching thirty this year. Am I on the right path here? I would think about what I want to do, not what my family thinks I ought to do. Make a list or steps to achieve these things instead of slumming through it, hoping for the best in whatever comes around.

2 Where are Angel and I going? We have divergent school options. We have been together all the time for three years. We would have to have more communication about seeing each other, attending, not attending, or even delaying, working out our time tables. Sorting out if what we do is worth hanging on to and seeing what steps we could take to keep it alive. I am sure it’s worth keeping! I am wise! I have met other ducks. There’s no one else he’s ever met that clicks so well. My life is only partially complete without her.


3 My family life is taking a downturn. I’ve always had a loving and supportive family. I am worrying about my father who is approaching seventy. He has been away since divorce when I was five. He is trying to play catch-up.  I worry for his sanity and health. I feel guilty for not spending more time with him. There’s some bad relationships... I would start trying to become more of the man that I am rather than believing that I am the small child still.  I would feel pretty satisfied to be at this age and be where I am in my life. I wouldn’t feel disapproval.  It’s a waste of my time to feel this way.


What three life issues would you focus on if you were in charge of Mako’s life?


1. I hope to be successful as a duck! Not just being another non-unique duck. I want to stand out a little bit more.

2. I don’t want to be a lonely duck. A healthy balance of flock, mate, and aloneness is great to have.

3. I don’t have regrets.  You can’t change them anyway!

In what life situations would it be most beneficial for Mako to imagine that he is you and act as you would?

Right before falling asleep.  That’s when worries and fears creep up into his mind.

Duck, do you do drama?  If not, why not?

No. I don’t like to see myself as a victim. I don’t get self-absorbed in self-pity or regret. I don’t do childish name-calling! I don’t put myself down or others. I try not to worry about needless things or things I have no control over. I have enough confidence in myself to make right and sound choices.


What is your secret for staying out of drama?

I know who I am and know I am better than bullshit.  There are not enough hours in my day to devote to waste.

Why do you think that you are in Mako’s life?

I exist in Mako’s life as a symbol of what he wants to be but is tainted by.

How is Mako most likely to ignore what you are saying to him?

I would give him a 50-50% chance of ignoring me.  I think that’s kind of disappointing. He’s so wound up and worried while I’ve been pouring out ways to act and improve and become this better duck.  He could take a little of it to heart….

Mako, what have you heard yourself say?

I feel that inside there are a lot of answers to all these issues and concerns that I have. I feel that talking through them has been helpful. By nature I’m not very communicative.  It’s rare to bare my feelings and problems or to come up with answers to such things. I heard the duck say that there is really not that much to worry about at all if you don’t let it. You are smart enough, kind enough to solve these things or to help yourself do these things.  I have no reason to think that I am inadequately prepared for the life ahead of me. I should not be afraid to make decisions or to talk about these things, to bring it out in the open rather than to chase my own tail with no clues with how to proceed.


Notice that despite Mako’s very capable and likable exterior that the initial “duck” part of him, dripping with the black and brown colors, can’t think of anything about it that it likes. It doesn’t have many friends. Isn’t this typical for many of us? We get through the day; others like us, but our opinion of ourselves is not as positive as the way others see us. This duck doesn’t see any of its own strengths, which is amazing, considering the number of competencies and strengths that Mako has. It doesn’t have much to be proud of. It’s pretty self-critical.  It’s kind of depressing. While out of sight and out of awareness for the most part, this part of Mako is not only behind him, but following him.  So we are able to avoid, but cannot escape, dealing with our own sense of who we think we really are.


Although Mako may not talk about it much, he has a great deal of self-awareness. The duck says that it probably personifies “all of his insecurities and short-comings. What he feels is on the inside instead of the bright, confident young man that he appears to be.”  It exists in Mako’s life “as a symbol of what he wants to be but is tainted by.”


Notice that normal, everyday life is not much help in resolving this core dilemma for most of us: how to integrate who we appear to be, our persona or social mask, with who we authentically know ourselves to be.  When these differ we tend to ignore or discount evidence that conflicts with our self-image. Mako’s girlfriend Angel sees what a wonderful, caring, and thoughtful person Mako is, but Mako tends to see a pretty ugly duck!


If this self-conception could transform, it would recognize and use its amazing versatility. It can fly, swim, dive, and hang out on land. How many people or animals can do all that? It would be beautiful and feel that way! It would be both adventurous and rooted.


Notice that this transformed duck scores pretty highly in all the core qualities of life clarity. What this means is that Mako could do worse than listen to advice from this imaginary part of himself, because it scores higher in core qualities of life clarity than he does.  It’s not God, but then perfection is not to be trusted…As the duck says, “Too much confidence can get you in trouble!”
This duck makes some recommendations and predictions. If Mako were to play along and do a little work at remembering to be this duck part of himself, the duck predicts that he would be more patient, not fly off the handle as easily, would roll more with the punches of life, wouldn’t be as worried, and would have more self-confidence and wisdom.  He would speak up more, get his feelings out more, self-disclose more. He wouldn’t stop himself from speaking up out of too much concern not to offend or harm others.  Now those are forms of growth you don’t normally get from a course in college or from reading a book. Most people don’t get them from being in a relationship. Yet here is an imaginary part of Mako promising him this stuff out of the blue and without him having to sweat blood to “earn” it. Why should he trust his duck? And why should he believe these are real accomplishments if he doesn’t have to suffer to get them?  Shouldn’t life be hard?  For most of us, most of the time, we associate anything real and good as difficult. This sounds too easy, too good, to be true. So maybe it isn’t.


One should never trust anything that comes out of an IDL dream yoga interview, but one should not ignore it, either. The proper response is to put to the test those recommendations that can do no harm. To know if any of this is trustworthy or helpful, Mako needs to test it in his life and see what happens. And this is where most of us need a good friend, a coach, or a practitioner of IDL to help them stay on track with applying the recommendations.  Otherwise, Mako is likely to fall back into being his normal self, followed around by a black and brown dripping, listless duck.


But this transformed duck wants to be a good friend to Mako. It says, “I know when not to offend or harm others with my feelings but…I would want him to have all of my strong qualities.”


How many of us have doubts, fears, and uncertainties about our future the way Mako does? What does Duck recommend? Well, first of all, it recommends that he listen to it instead of his family scripting. That has taken him this far, but now he’s stuck. He needs to listen to something else.  Why not a part of himself that scores high in core qualities of life clarity?  And this duck is very practical. It tells him to make a list! I suggested to Mako that he set five year, one year, six month, and one month goals in the areas of health, exercise, nutrition, friends, love relationship, family, personal development, spiritual development, career, money, and leisure and share them with Angel and his Duck!  What does the Duck think about those goals?

This duck considers Mako’s relationship with Angel healthy and good for him. It recommends he work at keeping it and doing what he can to improve communication and making it stronger. I have seen many interviews where people were told the exact opposite, with reasons to back it up. The duck’s advice also is congruent with my perception of the relationship: it’s healthy, it’s good, but it’s stuck. It’s time to take it to the next level, but that means a bit of changing on the part of both Mako and Angel. Can they do it? Yes! Will they do it? That is the challenge of life!


Mako is also told to stop dealing with his family from the perspective of a child. It recommends cultivating adult to adult relationships to get away from feelings of guilt and disapproval.


The duck also recommends that Mako focus on his uniqueness, his versatility, the qualities he has as a duck and to use them to fly! Swim! Dive! Walk, not waddle, through life! Then he won’t have to be alone or feel alone! To outgrow regrets because they are a waste of time!


This duck also tells Mako, in this, his first interview, a principle that is basic to IDL dream yoga: reading over interviews before sleep to repattern dream consciousness. Normally we regress into earlier, scripted forms of coping during our dreams, reinforcing early patterns of guilt, failure, disappointment, and depression that stay with us as a cloud of vague mental pollution in our subsequent waking hours. Pre-sleep incubation of an alternative, innate, constructive perceptual framework is critical.


Mako’s assessment of the interview indicates that he found it reassuring to know he has good reason to move beyond his self-doubt and ties to an outgrown self-image left over from his childhood. But no one can tell Mako this; if they could, the woman who loves him most in the world would have gotten through to him a long time ago. Mako has to listen to himself, hear himself, believe in himself, and take determined action to become his emerging potentials. He’s now met one of them. Duck thinks he has a 50-50% chance of ignoring it. Will he? Will you?


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