I’ve been asked many times why I named this blog The Simple Swan. I suppose I’ve always had an affinity for this elegant bird that graces the scenes of art, literature, and ballets.
My earliest encounter with storybook swans was probably Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Duckling and its powerful message of transformation, acceptance, kindness, and love. Who can resist the idea that no matter how awkward and rejected we feel, deep down we are all beautiful swans?
Another favorite novel of mine is E.B. White’s Trumpet of the Swan. It tells the sweet story of a trumpeter swan, Louis (cleverly named for Louis Armstrong), who learns several lessons in his journey first to self-love and eventually to true love with a lovely swan named Serena.
My love for swans was sealed when I was a little girl taking dance lessons. My mother took my sisters and me to a production of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, and I was mesmerized. Ever since, the story of Swan Lake has had a place on my bookshelf.
Seeing real swans in nature only increases their fictional dreaminess for me. With their gracefully elongated necks, strong bodies, and regal composure, I’m inspired by their natural poise, beauty, and simplicity. They might be paddling like crazy just below the surface, but they always appear to serenely glide through life.
When my own children reached the same age as the eighth graders I taught, I had a daily routine of stopping by a park on the way home from school. For fifteen minutes or so, I would sit in my car and watch the swans on the small peaceful lake.
In the midst of hectic days blessed by teenagers at work and home, the swans soothed my soul and reminded me how I wanted to show up in the world as a teacher, parent, and human being.
Especially now, as I near my sixties, swans seem to possess a wise and mature sense of joy. They aren’t showy like peacocks or cute and flighty like chickadees. Swans represent the simple, peaceful, and deep contentment I seek in my own life.
This blog offers a place to share my passion for writing and for trying to live with that kind of grace. I welcome any reader who wishes to effortlessly glide through life inspired, as I am, by the elegance of a simple swan. §
“It is only with the heart that one can see clearly, for the most essential things are invisible to the eye.”
~ Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling
Featured Art ~ The Swans by Joseph Marius Jean Avy, 1900