My lame chicken died yesterday. The inevitable arrived, as always, as a surprise. My little chickadee couldn’t survive forever. Watching her pathetically trying to edge up to the feed and water. Me pathetically performing physical therapy on her wounded right leg. Her bunk mate chick jumping on the her, snuggling, enjoying the closeness. A meat chicken’s reality is doom. Her dreams are merely instinct. But to be impaired and live a shorter life than her siblings brings sadness. Is there a way to look at this event positively?
The barnyard only functions when all of its parts are functioning. Animals serving their purpose. Farmer serving his animals. Nature giving as she will and takes away as she pleases. A crippled animal takes away everyone. Takes food and water that does the least benefit. Takes time for the farmer to attend to one that can’t tend to itself. Sometimes, the imperfect can be made whole. Reality dictates that life will run its course and require that crippling conditions must be corrected or overcome. Life requests our very best if one hopes to survive. Life demands much more in order to flourish. The bad news for livestock is that the potential for a cripple grows small. The good news for people is that we have options and power over our crippled condition.
I watched a video from a series called This American Life. The episode, titled The Spy Who Loved Everybody, concerned a prank where a large group attended a small band’s nightclub gig in order to make that one night “the best gig ever”. Initially, the band was amazed. Later, they found out it was prank. The take from both the individual pranksters and the individual band members varied widely and in opposite directions. What was revealed, from my perspective, was that good intentions don’t have guaranteed results and a crippled person is the only one who can escape his impairment.
The prank leader who confected the “best gig ever” was made aware of the unintended results of mission and his agents. Though harm was not the intent, it was undeniable that when the band found out the blowout gig was staged, they were crest fallen. This fellow concluded that since that because their intentions were good, that it was still a positive thing. One might call his intentions a good dream and the reality a bad nightmare. In any case, the pranksters continued their good intentions and the same varying and often unexpected results.
On the band’s side, one member in particular was greatly harmed. He said he spent his whole life trying to avoid confrontation and being laughed at. This prank with good intentions took him back to the childhood days when he had to endure bullying and cruelty. As grew up, he sought to escape the pain and find refuge wherever, finally landing in relative obscurity surrounded by possibly other emotional cripples. The experience of the prank not only caused old wounds to open but also forced him to face the fact that his crippling attempts to avoid confrontation and being laughed at left him cornered with no options of escape. One day, three months after the prank, he stood up and said enough. This is who I am. I play the guitar. I enjoy my life. There is nothing wrong with. He healed himself of a lifelong impediment by hitting the bottom of his pain and merely standing back up and accepting who he was. Who he always was. Nothing could hurt him now or anymore. But there was a last question.
The guitarist, named Chris, was asked, “Given a choice between dreams and real life which would you choose?” Chris answered the first one (dreams). This surprised me. Why dreams? But upon reflection I do see it. The second one, reality, may help us realize where we are and what we have to do and how far we have to good but it is not encouraging to a cripple, emotional or otherwise. The hardness of reality, with its sharp edges and bruising reminders and its unforgiving laws of physics can be a call to quit and hide and nurse our inadequacies. But dreams have no such characteristics. Dreams live without judgement or hardness or cruelty. Dreams accept us and all of our inadequacies without notice. Dreams allow healing and overcoming and forgiveness. We are like crippled chickens if we accept reality by itself not allowing for dreams and can accept that same fate. Dreams and being human allow for choices. The choice for self-acceptance. The choice to let others be themselves but outside of impacting your life. The choice to like things the way they are.