Thursday, February 21, 2013

lessons in courage from a pint-sized rooster

Allspice in charge of the barn floor
Allspice is our bantam Americauna rooster. He was the first of our 4 bantam roosters to start crowing last fall. 

Allspice was also the first of our bantam roosters to start, ahem, "dating."

We have a full-sized rooster named Vigor.  He's bold and beautiful and everything you'd want in a full-sized rooster.

Vigor rules the roost... but not the barn floor.

He rules our flock of 38 birds (a mixture of full-sized and bantam chickens, Guinea fowl and turkeys).

But... he doesn't rule the barn floor.

Allspice learned pretty early on that he couldn't out-run, out-muscle or out-compete with Vigor.  If Vigor caught him sidling up to one of his full-sized ladies, he quickly got yanked off his feet by the scruff of his neck and tossed to the barn floor.

{The lady in question might also get a peck on the neck for her transgression.}

It seemed like it would be a long, lonely life for Allspice, hiding in Vigor's shadow.

What should I do about Vigor?

But that is not the end of Allspice's story.

I noticed pretty soon after Allspice starting having "dates" with the bantam girls that he was also dating the full-sized hens.

Behind Vigor's back.

He'd wait until Vigor was outside the barn chasing ladies around the pasture, then he'd grab all the remaining hens in the barn and "date" them all.

When Vigor takes his ladies to the roost at night (which he does pretty early in the evening), Allspice stays on the barn floor "dating" every last hen who comes by for a late night snack before bedtime.

Allspice is out-sized and out-classed in every way. 

But it doesn't matter to him.

She looks cute...

He makes up for in courage what he lacks in size. 

And at the end of the day (or night), guess what?  Allspice gets more dates than Vigor does, a hundred times over.

What's my point in all of this?

All of our lives we are absorbing messages.  First from our parents, then our classmates and teachers, friends, neighbors, coworkers, bosses, significant others.

Sometimes the messages are positive and encouraging: "You sing great!  You should try out for choir!"

And sometimes, despite perhaps the best of intentions, those messages are less than supportive: "You really should pick some other type of career - I don't think History Professor / Actor / Singer / Dancer / Artist is going to put food on the table."

You mean I can't be a Rock Star?
 Over time, these messages change us.

The child who doodles in her notebook during Math is scolded and told to pay attention in class. Eventually she stops drawing and becomes a librarian instead of an artist.

The boy who animatedly engages the class with his comedic gestures is told to be quiet and sit down. Eventually he becomes an accountant instead of an actor and playwright.

The teenager who dyes his hair pink, gets a nose ring and tattoo and plays loud music in the garage is told to get serious, he'll never be a rock star. He takes the first paying job that can take him out of Smallville and is now is stuck in middle management, paying the second mortgage and the second vehicle loan and wondering what happened to his dreams.

That unbridled passionate joy that we expressed in so many unique ways as children gets smothered by a thousand expectations of how we should be/act/work/live/love. 

Why yes, I AM a Rock Star!

As the spark inside of us grows dimmer, we turn to distractions like work, TV, social media, our kids' schedules, food and addictions to numb the pain.

Where did our uniqueness go?  What happened to that child so full of life and hope and tenacity, with the world at her fingertips?

She or he is still there.  Bruised perhaps, dormant most likely, but still there. 

Like Allspice tossed to the barn floor.  Bruised & dusty & humiliated.

But resilient.

Allspice doesn't have an education.  He doesn't have a flock.  He doesn't have big spurs to fight with or a big car to impress the ladies, or any other external advantage.

The only thing he has is a big belief in his own worth as a rooster, the cajones to take risks and chances where he knows he could fail (and often does), and the ability to, when tossed to the ground, pick himself up off the barn floor, shake the dust off of his feathers, sing his little heart out, and keep chasing after the ladies.

We could all learn something from a pint-sized rooster.  What are your dreams, and what's stopping you from chasing them?

Cheers -

P.S. - Most of the pics in this post were shot with an iPhone and shared in Instagram. Have an IG account? Let me know so I can follow you!


jenlarson said...

I love it!! Beautiful story :D

Travis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Travis said...

Awesome post. Very thought provoking (and funny)!

Victoria Strauser said...

Thank you both! He's quite the little inspiration!

Jess said...

Love this! Allspice reminds me of our silly bantam Arnold. It's awesome to me, to see him go about his big rooster duties as if he was a big rooster. They truly don't know the difference. And you're so right, we ought to believe in ourselves as much... think what we could do!

Victoria Strauser said...

So true Jess!

Tommy S said...

Great blog I enjooyed reading

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