This is a short story that I often tell my clients. It is written by Ajahn Brahm who is the abbot of a monastery in Australia. In his book, Opening the door of your heart, Ajahn Brahm relates wise teachings from his saint-like and renowned teacher, Ajahn Chah. This story used to be a favourite of his teacher.
A newly married couple went for a walk together in a wood, one fine summer evening after dinner. They were having such a wonderful time being together until they heard a sound in the distance: Quack! Quack!
Listen,said the wife. That must be a chicken.
No,no. That was a duck – said the husband.
No, I am sure that was a chicken- the wife said.
Impossible – said the husband. Chicken go Cock-a-doodle-doo, while ducks go Quack! Quack! That is a duck, darling – said the husband, showing first signs of irritation.
Quack! Quack! the thing went again.
See! It is a duck – he said.
No dear. That is a chicken. I am positive – she asserted, digging in her heels.
Listen wife! That IS A DUCK. D-U-C-K, duck! Got it? – he said angrily.
But it is a chicken, she protested.
It is a blooming duck, YOU ___
And it went Quack! Quack! again before he said something he ought not have.
The wife was almost in tears and said – But it is a chicken.
The husband saw the tears welling up in his wife eyes and, at last, remembered why he had married her. His face softened and he said gently – Sorry, darling. I think you must be right. This is a chicken.
Thank you, darling – she said and squeezed his hand.
Quack! Quack! came the sound through the woods, as they continued their walk together in love.
The point of the story that the husband finally awakened to was, who cares whether it is a chicken or a duck? What was much more important was their harmony together , that they could enjoy their walk on such a fine summer evening. How many marriages are broken over the unimportant matters? How many divorces cite chicken or duck stuff.
When we understand this story, we will remember our priorities. The marriage is more important than being right about whether it is a chicken or a duck. Anyway, how many times have we been absolutely, certainly and positively convinced we are right, only to find out we were wrong later. Who knows? That could have been genetically modified chicken made to sound like a duck!