Along time ago, a flock of birds traveled south for the winter. One of the weakest birds fell behind. Flying through a low pressure system, feeling the challenge of cyclonic winds, the bird learned his weakness to be possibly fatal. He fell behind, and was forced to crash land in a field. Having never lived long enough to face this experience before, he lay dazed, lost in reflection, preyed upon by waves of self-doubt and indecision.
The weather system had passed, and he basked in the warm sun, until a cow -unaware of him completely- proceeded to have a bowel evacuation atop the small bird. He knew this was to be the end of him. He was denied sunlight. He was lost, unable to breathe, and was certain death was imminent. But his drive to live prevailed. Aiming upward, he struggled, wriggled, and pecked ntil he forced his head out to suck in his first gasp of breath in several moments.
Still encased in cow's dung, he could hardly contain his joy at his seeming salvation. He started chirping, and chirping, and chirping. Along came a cat who heard, and spied the stranded bird, dug him out, and ate him.
Not everyone who shits on you is an enemy.
Not everyone who digs you out of the shit is a friend.
Sometimes, when stuck in a pile of shit, you should keep your mouth shut.
A member of the United States Air Force shared that inspired story with me in 1993, and I have remembered it ever since. But, at the peak of my maturity (age 22) I would have no idea that bthe story was not just cute or funny. I now know that remembering that moral can save me much headache. In 1993, I lived with my family, I had no true responsibility, and I was oblivious to any possible needs I had, because everything I needed was provided for.
Now the question arrises as to who is my friend, and who isn't. Or, looking at the story, perhaps the question is actually what actions are helping me, and which are hurting me. Reading the moral of the story, I am assured that people's motives, good and bad, are becoming less and less significant. After a time, I found that listening to people's explanations of their actions - at times insulting, hurtful, misleading or debilitating- did nothing to change a situation.
Perhaps what I am saying is in the end, I have to view an action solely on the merits of what it accomplishes. So much time gets lost listening to people explaining why they chose to lie to me, chose to steal from me, choose to mischaracterize me to others, and I am sure that the explanations that offered the best of intentions for me or for someone else. Try listening to someone elucidating why they tried to screw you over... One man actually stuttered while talking to me: "I never me...me...meant any harm." Perhaps the stutter was not an affectation, and I am insensitive for the disgust I had that day. There is a chance for forgiveness, but I cannot walk around pretending everyone acts with the best of intentions. Human beings just are not like that.
But, if the discerning reader presupposes I have a dung pile of my own, that that is the cause of this little post, they also know the third part of the moral. I have much to gain in keeping my private issues private. I once read from a man who said "nothing pays off like restraint of pen and tongue. Maybe I am wrong for expressing public grumpiness, with hints of cynicism. Still, I am smart enough not to throw stones in public. Even simple-minded folk like me can learn from the past.
The hope for forgiveness comes in no longer caring about people's intentions. If someone behaves carelessly I can look for a pattern. If that person cannot stop behaving in a careless fashion, I will simply move away from them. Maybe I did learn something useful from those Al-Anon meetings.
Thank you for reading