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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lesson from the Kalij Pheasant Family


(image from here)

There is a family of Kalij pheasants who live in the vicinity of this farm, and who wander past our tiny cabin several times a day on their way to and from their favorite spots.

The eight-acre tropical coffee and macadamia nut farm we're working and living on this winter has a perimeter fence of 4"x4" welded wire to keep out feral pigs (and loose dogs, both of which there seem to be a lot of on the Big Island) and keep in Zeena the farm dog.  The lowest several rows of wire have narrower spaces than the higher rows (to keep out the piglets).

Every time I see the pheasant family near the perimeter fence, I stop and watch how they behave.  The mama pheasant, nearly invisible in her coat of brown camoflauge feathers, hops up a couple of rows and pops on through a 4" opening above the rows of smaller holes.  Once safely on the other side, she waits patiently in the vicinity and watches the rest of her family.  She is always calm and quiet, only murmuring a few quiet "urr urr" noises to her baby every now and then.

Papa pheasant, who walks with a slight limp, usually follows suit, although it takes him a little longer it seems to remember how to get through.  Male baby, however, always follows the same behavior pattern - keeping his head lowered, uttering lots of loud "urr urr urr" noises, he scans the lowest rows of fencing for a gap big enough to slip through (he is nearly adult-sized) and runs frantically back and forth along a section of fence maybe 20yds wide.

No matter how many times he runs back and forth along the fence, he never finds a gap to slip through, because there are no wider openings in the lowest rows of wire.

Despite his mother easily hopping up and through the fence several times a day, he has not learned to stop and watch her and learn from her behavior.  He continues to run frantically along the fenceline looking for a gap.  Several times every day he repeats this behavior.

It reminds me of the story I'm sure you've read before:

A man walks out of a bar and sees a drunken man searching the ground under a lamp post for his house keys. The first man decides to help him, and both search around for a while. Finally, the first man asks, "Are you sure this is where you lost your keys?" The drunken man answers, "No, I dropped them in the alley, but it's too dark there to see, and the light is better under the lamp post."

How many times do we look in the same place for our lost keys, or purse, or remote control, certain it is there, when it is clearly somewhere else?  How many times do we do the same thing over and over again, hoping for new outcomes?  Date the same kind of person, have the same arguments with our spouse, return every day to our "safe" but boring jobs while our creative spirits wither.

How many times do we get stuck in the same thought patterns - "I can't change things, this is the way life is, there is nothing I can do."

We are all like frantic baby pheasants running back and forth looking only at the bottom of the fence for a gap that doesn't exist.

When we remember to stop and look up, we see all the opportunities in front of and around us, just waiting for us to take the time to look for them.  We see others leading by example. We see we can fly over the fence, or hop up and go through the bigger gaps.

We see new possibilities and opportunities.

If only we remember to look up.


Jess said...

What a great lesson. You describe the birds so well, I can just imagine watching them too.

Victoria Strauser said...

Thanks Jess! They are so pretty.

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