"Be the Chicken"

I was looking for the Apple TV remote, a small, slender, silver rectangle that could've gotten wedged between couch cushions or stuck behind or beneath something. We'd recently canceled our cable subscription, so without Apple TV, we might as well get rid of the TV altogether (maybe that's next).

In any case, that was why I had moved the loveseat out from the wall into the middle of the room, revealing a few Legos (is there any household anywhere without Lego pieces lurking under couches?), an empty yogurt container, and a picture of a chicken floating over the sea.

Jena Schwartz | Be the Chicken

I took the opportunity to sweep the considerable amount of dog fur, human hair, and dust that had accumulated since the last time, however long that had been, and picked up the detritus. No Apple remote to be found.

But the chicken captured my imagination. Why was it just hovering there in the air? Did it have magic powers? It didn't look frightened or even particularly concerned. The sun is shining, and the waters appear to be calm below. It's like the most matter of fact thing in the world, a chicken in mid-air, apparently going about its business.

I later found out from Pearl that it was a drawing prompt from a friend one day, when they were exchanging those. I loved the creativity and spontaneity of that and was reminded of a period of time when a friend and I texted each other a prompt each day for writing a 10-line poem. It's a great practice, and even better when you have a buddy.

I put the chicken picture up on the side of the fridge.

"What's up with the chicken in the sky?" Mani asked later that day. I told her I'd found it under the couch. I noticed my dogged desire to find the metaphor in the picture. Surely there was one. It was probably deep, too, very Pema Chodron, something about groundlessness or not looking down.

I saw the chicken and realized I was projecting. I was the chicken. I needed to persevere, to carry on my merry way, to not question whether I'm in my element but just go with it and be here now. The chicken suddenly seemed very Zen. Or maybe just oblivious.

I am neither Zen nor oblivious. I started to write I failed at Zen, but it's probably more accurate, and kinder, to say I integrated what drew me to Zen back into my own Jewish traditions. I definitely failed at oblivion, which is arguably for the better since it's pretty hard to grow and live in closer alignment with one's deepest values and soul if you're oblivious to what matters to you and what's happening both within and around you. So there's that.

Maybe I'm not so much like the chicken after all. But I do love the simplicity and whimsy of the picture, so perhaps that, at the end of the day, is why I like it and will keep it on the fridge. As a reminder to play, a reminder to give and receive silly, spontaneous prompts for writing and drawing and experimenting, as a reminder to lighten up and get a little lift in my step.

After all, maybe the chicken is just really buoyant. Maybe she's having a fantastic day, and there is land on either side of the drawing, just outside the frame.

I so very much want to end this little post by saying: "Be the chicken." I don't know what it means, by some part of me thinks it's ridiculous and wonderful. Interpret as you wish!