“It turns out that all the things that are messy and dirty in the world, the very things we thought we needed to control or even eliminate to stay alive, are actually the very elements necessary for robust health.”
Apparently, our chickens are carving our pumpkins this year, and I want to kill them. In my anger, I wrongly accused my mischievous seven-year old of doing the damage, but later found poop and feathers near the scene of the crime. They’ve been in a terrible habit of sneaking up to the front porch when we aren’t looking and pecking out holes that look like eyes.
This summer when I purchased our first chicken coop, I didn’t know what I was doing. I bought a tiny, flimsy coop from someone selling new, reasonably priced ones on Craigslist. The description said it was spacious enough for up to six chickens. Nine months later, I know the truth. Our tiny flock can only stand to roost there through the night. At one point this summer, I could hardly stand to see them pacing back and forth and squawking at me anytime I would pass by.
Our property is surrounded by forest on every side. I knew they could get snatched up by an owl or a hawk or a lone, hungry coyote, but I decided to take the risk and give them access to a happy, adventurous life instead of a long one. I was hopeful our Labrador would do his part in protecting them from predators. Although he is pure energy and love, his bark can be intimidating when he senses something lurking in his woods.
Surprise, surprise, our chickens are still with us after about four-months of this free-range life. I know it sounds cruel to you chicken lovers out there, but I was secretly hoping I would be quietly released from having to take care of them. In other words, I was wishing my own precious chicks to be snatched from our yard.
How can I be so cruel?
Seriously, though, I need help.
Every single day since we’ve moved here, I’ve found yet another reason to give away all the animals. They are jiggling my hands lose from every sliver of control I thought I had.
Although my kids do the same, I cannot give them away. But the animals…easy. It wouldn’t take more than a couple days, I’m sure, to find them all a better home with someone who truly enjoys tending to them.
My romantic notions of life get me in trouble.
I was swooning over the chicks in the farm store, and they were only ninety-nine cents. I had images running through my head of our kids playing in the yard with a rambunctious puppy. I envisioned soft barn kittens cuddled up on our front porch in a blanket of hay.
I failed to see the work of allowing creatures into our space. The hair (oh the hair!) everywhere, embedded into all my rugs and furniture, gathering in the corners of our house, and finding its way into our food.
The muddy paw prints on my floors from supposed dirty farm cats who we swore would never come inside.
The chicken droppings scattered across our lovely wrap around porch and aforementioned pecked pumpkins.
The holes are dog continues to dig in the yard and the way his bark wakes me up from precious sleep.
Life needs a warning label doesn’t it?
Caution: This life might kill you, or at the very least drive you crazy, but don’t worry, you will eventually learn to love it, not just tolerate it.
This is where I need to admit I do not (yet) love my life right now.
I am doing an enormous amount of tolerating, in addition to remembering to breathe deep.
It’s dang hard. And I feel stupid for saying that because I can name people, friends, family, experiencing brutal sickness, grief, trauma, and extremely trying situations at the moment. I bet you can too.
How does a chicken pecking at my pumpkins push me over the edge and push my frustration barometer to the top in three seconds?
Can we all say this together? Repeat after me.
Everything from the little irritations, big tumultuous transitions, unexpected circumstances, daily low-grade grief, broken hearts and messy relationships, and all the things that make you want to throw up your hands and QUIT, yes, those things are not silly or insignificant.
They add up. They contribute. They count.
When I sense life sitting heavy on my shoulders, I want to immediately figure out who or what is to blame and find a way to eliminate every stressor.
Spoiler alert: It’s not possible, life will never be that easy.
There will always be something to keep us from gracefully maintaining the level of control and cleanliness we desire, but this friends is how we fall in love with life.
The way it splices us up into a million pieces, shreds our egos, blows us apart, tossing us like confetti into the wind, hardly feels romantic in the moment.
But if we relax into the whirling, into what feels like our grave on some days, we will be resurrected into freedom.
Eventually, the fingerprints on our windows, the dirt on the doorsteps, the unanswerable questions, the impossible mysteries, the weakness of our physical bodies, they won’t be such a great source of annoyance anymore, but proof of our liberation.
We will want them to linger, to stay put so we don’t forget – life is better when I don’t force it be anything other than what it is.
But until then, don’t ever shy away from admitting life is hard, you feel crazy, and you want to quit everything. Admit your unromantic realities and watch how you start to fall in love with life again.