Failure is relative, learning is constant

This is a story about chickens… Should they live or should they die? It all depends on the context.

When I was about 6 or 8 months old (according to those in my family who told me the story) I lived in a small house in Mexico located out in the country which had a big backyard at the time. A lot has changed, as today my parents’ house is in a crowded area with not a lot of wooden spots as before.

One day my mom sat me on a blanket while she was taking care of the house chores, and during one of those activities, a group of baby chickens came close to me, wandering from their mom, probably looking at me as the weirdo giant brown bird playing alone in the back of the house. Neither the chicks’ momma or the human baby’s momma were paying attention to their respective sprouts, which created a situation of “opportunities” for us trying to discover the world around us.

When a baby chicken was within reach, I took it with my hand and started holding it from the neck as if it was a squeaky toy, maybe with the idea that such thing was fun and exciting. And yes, the chick started squeaking, but only for a few seconds, and then died, allegedly from asphyxia (up to this day, such allegation has not been proven).

Disappointed, I dropped the inert little bird and proceeded to take the next one in the proximity, to continue having fun but getting the same result as before, until there were no more chicks (alive) to play with. It was then when apparently the fun experience turned into fear in lieu of the sight in front of me… a chick graveyard. It was then when I started crying, either because of guilt (unlikely at such age) or because I was no longer having fun as I had ran out of chicks.

That’s when my mom came to my “rescue”, just to witness the scene I created, and while she quickly comforted me, she kept asking why had I done such thing, although we both new (!?) it was only a rhetorical question.

In these circumstances is easy to determine that I FAILED to keep the chickens alive, as they would have served a better purpose other than just the temporary entertainment of my innocent life at the time.

Killing the chickens: WRONG.

Now, fast forwarding approximately 14 years, I visited my grandma’s farm, where there was still a lot of surrounding nature and simple life to enjoy, away from the city craziness. It was a summer break, and my brother and I were working with our uncles doing hard country physical work, like preparing the soil, seeding the crops, helping at the brick factory, carrying buckets of water from the well to the house, and some other challenging activities.

One day I was assigned an interesting yet creepy task. For dinner we were going to have chicken. And the chicken had to die. And my aunts were mean, so they were having fun because I had never done this before (allegedly). But in this case the circumstances were different. This is a grown up chicken with enough meat to feed a group of 6-8 people. So, here we go… I was supposed to hold the chicken’s head with one hand and the legs with the other, and pull them apart with enough strength to break the neck and minimize the poor animal’s suffering. But for some reason, even though strength wasn’t an issue, I could not do it. It could be that the chicken kept moving, making me nervous, or that the subconscious brought back the images from my early childhood.

One of my aunts came to the rescue, not without giving me all kinds of “compliments” for my failure. And then it just took her a few seconds to make sure the chicken crossed the finish line, and headed towards the cooking pot.

Not killing the chicken: WRONG

Failure is not absolute, is relative. When we face failure, we must identify the circumstances, and separate those that cannot be controlled by us, from those that can be changed to try again.

And of course I learned something: chicken is delicious!

chickens

 

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