I often think of different things throughout the day and wonder “Why.” Why are things the way they are and why do we do the things we do? Why is our world complex and confusing and wonderful and scary all at the same time? Why can’t humans get it together? I often ponder the things of life when I am watching my chickens or working in the garden.
Chickens are a funny sort. They start off so soft and fluffy and everyone loves to hear them cheep-cheep from their box. But then they grow and are half fluff and half new feathers. They squawk and move their heads practically in a circle like the girl on the old Exorcist flick. They are afraid of nearly everything and at this stage, they are not pretty at all. Their feathers are different colors with fluff poking out in between. In fact, at this stage, they remind me of teenagers. All gawky and not so pretty. Yet.
The little rooster will hop up onto the top bar, throw his head back and begin a crow which ends in a squeak. He gives it a shake and tries again. Much like a young male when their voice changes. They squeak and get embarrassed, but they eventually get their deep voice. As I watch the rooster strutting around and the “almost hens” hopping and jumping at every noise I always think of kids. Children kids. And goat kids. They all kind of act the same.
And then I think: What if we kept our kids penned up at nights, not long after dark, and ran them out of the house early in the morning to learn the work of surviving. Work, like scratching and hopping around. Getting their hands dirty. Exploring new territory for another source of food. What if we protected our children with the same intensity with which we protect our animals? Keeping predators out at all costs. Sheltering them from harm. Shooing them away from dangerous situations, but always providing protection.
Another lesson from chickens is that there is always a leader. It can be a hen or a rooster, but a leader none the less. ONE leader. Maybe a co-leader if a hen gets bossy, but not everyone in the henhouse gets to be the leader. I often wonder why humans get the idea that everyone is born to be THE leader and that one should never expect to follow another. Mass confusion and chaos comes when everyone is trying to be THE Leader and no one is listening. All want to go their own way. Certainly, something to think about.
I’m not saying we are chickens or goats or even that we are on that level, but there are things about living together and getting along that we can learn from other kinds of groups. Cats tell me to lay down in the heat of the day. Stretch out and do not even consider working for a bit. Do not worry about what others think. Do your own thing and take it easy. Not bad advice in our “hurry hurry” world.
I can’t say much about dogs because our dog sniffs and licks things I do not wish to even contemplate. However, he is always loyal, and he is always ready to give a good greeting whether it is early morning or late afternoon. He is willing to leave my chickens alone and only aggravates the cat up to a certain point. It is the point that the cat attacks, but hey, he knows exactly when that point is. He even smiles when he runs full tilt into the cat and then runs circles around her. Maybe we should all be so silly sometimes.
Working in the garden gives me pause to think about human life and some of the silly things we do. For instance, in a garden there are many different plants. Each time I look at an Iris or a Gladiolus or a Peony. I am struck by their resilience and their uniqueness. The curling petals are so soft and delicate and yet each one is totally unique. The Glad comes out like a pre-arranged bouquet on a sturdy stalk. The iris opens, and each petal gracefully curves over to show her beautiful inside, while the peony gradually unfurls to become a globe of sweetness and fragrance. Each unique. Each different. They are similar in ways, but each petal, each stalk, each leaf is slightly different from the other.
And yet, a garden full of Iris would be beautiful but not so breathtaking as a garden full of Iris and Glads and Peonies backed up by Lilacs and catnip and butterfly bushes and Hollyhocks. A stunning garden is full of different and it is the differences that make it beautiful.
We are beautiful garden. We all need each other so that we can shine our uniqueness onto the world. We are not a world of Iris and only Iris. We are complex, and we are unique, and we need each other. We also need rest and we don’t need to be so worried about what others think. We need to be silly and aggravate others just a little, so they know we care about them. We need to be leaders at times, but we also need to be willing followers at times. We need to protect our kids and we need to teach them to work and be responsible for helping others.
We need to slow down and ponder more often.