18 February 2016
Frieda just asks
When twilight set in yesterday, our hen Frieda suddenly appeared at the back door. All by herself, not in the usual company of her sister hen. I immediately found this suspicious, because she was supposed to already be perching and in addition she was not used to appearing here all by herself. Our hen house is located in the back of our garden, so she had to cross quite a distance, including our kitchen garden, to reach our back door.
So she must somehow have thought "I cannot do this by myself, I need to get help". I put on my boots and raincoat and went outside. Frieda immediately fell into pace next to me, as if she were a trained dog. Did I imagine it or did she actually shoot me a grateful look as if to say "Thank you, I knew I could count on the human". But of course not, this was purely me projecting human feelings onto an animal.
Upon arrival at the hen house it turned out she had missed curfew and got locked out (as opposed to her sister, who was snugly inside). You have to know that our hen house is equipped with a fully automated system which closes the door once the light sensor detects it is dark enough. It had happened before, but on those occasions Frieda would just sit on the board in front of the door, trying to get some sleep there.
So I found it quite remarkable that this time she chose to come and ask for help as if she knew that on the other side of the garden, behind the lighted window, there was a being who could help her. You can only wonder about what went on in her tiny hen's brain. As of now I will never again use the term "headless chicken".
To me the essence of this funny anecdote is the element of "asking for help". Apparently this is something that is hard to do for a lot of us, as if it is a sign of weakness. Self-reliance and autonomy are highly respected in our individualistic society. Asking for help means making yourself feel vulnerable. And that is difficult.
Another aspect of asking for help is that we build up a 'debt' as it were, especially if we cannot reciprocate the favour immediately. We also do not like to disturb others with our problems (when you contact someone, you often start by saying "I hope I'm not disturbing?"). Next to being polite, this also expresses a feeling of inferiority, which is often a product of our education and part of a family culture. But turn it around for once. When somebody asks you for help, do you think "Oh dear, there she is again, I really do not have time for this"? I don't believe you do. On the contrary, you will usually feel good about someone asking for your help.
People who have received help often think that they need to do something in return (to pay off that so-called debt). For instance, if your friends have helped you move, you may feel inclined to organise a thank-you dinner in return. But your helpers are usually not expecting that. What gives them a good feeling is knowing how happy you are that everything is solved and arranged and settled. That is what they are thinking about when they drive home after having helped you, nothing else.
Frieda definitely gave me a good feeling by asking for my help. I cannot bear to think that she might have run into a marten instead of me. And unwittingly she has paid off her debt hundredfold by producing tasty eggs.
Ancient Wisdom as a vaccine
In De Standaard of 21 April (one of the major local newspapers) there was a beautiful article entitled "Art as a vaccine in the post-corona era". Why wait for that post-corona era? Yesterday the parable "This too shall pass" ended up in my mailbox.
28 April 2020
The invisible dog or how being hard headed does not pay off
"Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Humans excel in that. We somehow believe that if we keep trying harder we will ultimately succeed, even if we keep ending up with the same result, time and time again.
2 November 2018
From King of the Mountain to Swimming Champion
23 August 2018
What if email, mobile phones and social media did not exist?
12 July 2018
Don’t make change too complicated. Just begin.
14 June 2018
Why not take a mini-holiday
10 May 2018
Lost in deconstruction
"You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star" [Friedrich Nietzsche]
19 April 2018
How Dog had a breakthrough – a contemporary fable (part 2)
15 March 2018
How Cat & Dog should follow the example of Mouse, a contemporary fable
15 February 2018
Winter’s life lesson
21 November 2017
A juvenile delinquent dog or the price of adulthood
When we reach the age of adulthood we seem to have internalised all those responsibilities, expectations and limitations. As if the free creatures that we once were are forgotten.
18 January 2018
Lessons taught by wild geese
16 November 2017
Who is the King of Creation?
What if things were different from what we have always assumed? It can make you feel very unsafe to question your normal perspective. On the other hand it also offers incredible freedom and creativity to step outside the beaten track and become curious.
19 October 2017
From prey to predator and vice versa
From prey to predator and vice versa, the natural order put upside down. The animals themselves do not seem to be bothered by it - for sure Django isn’t, and the hens appear to find it quite normal to be on top of the food chain.
5 October 2017
How is your Monkey Mind?
We all have a Monkey Mind, Buddha said, with scores of monkeys, all demanding attention. The fear monkey is the loudest of them all, he is constantly ringing the alarm bell, drawing our attention to things we should be wary of and to everything that can go wrong.
21 September 2017
The parable of the businessman and the fisherman
We always have a choice: do we listen to our sabotaging inner voices or do we opt for what we really want, like the fisherman?
24 August 2017
Mr Goldberg and his assumptions
It is worthwhile to take a closer look at the assumptions you have about the persons with whom you have a relationship. You could develop the habit to ask yourself if a certain assumption is really true. And what if it is not?
10 August 2017
Asking for help is something we struggle with and we will only ask when we have no other option. We believe that asking for help and putting ourselves in a vulnerable position is a sign of weakness. Asking for help creates a warm connection between the asker and the giver.
20 April 2017
What if ....?
What if you would use a different perspective to look at what you have always assumed to be the objective reality? Does objective reality as such even exist?
9 February 2017