About a year ago, one of my friends sent out a mass email to everyone he knew with the following quote “What is in the way IS the way”. I smiled when I read it. He was one of the few people who replied to my mass friend email with the “Who Are You Not To Be” quote. Today I happened across the quote “If a Bird Can’t Fly, It Walks”. Just fantastic.
I’ve seen my share of injured animals. The one thing most injured animals have in common is an intense desire to keep living. They will fight predators viciously, they will attack food rivals violently and they will engage the world using whatever powers they have left. Birds with broken wings keep looking for food, dogs with three legs keep looking for other dogs to run with and beavers that live in streams during droughts go looking for water somewhere else. They keep doing what they do, regardless of the hardships that my befall them.
I doubt the experience of consciousness for an animal is anything like that of a human, and that is one thing that makes them remarkably stronger in the survival sense. Maybe they have moments of feeling that they were unfairly victimize but the only thing that directs their behavior is a desire to survive. They’ll keep trying to attract mates, hunt and find food and seek out a safe shelter for protection. They are not going to become socialist victims looking for a handout and to be taken care of because something extremely challenging happened to them.
I don’t know the statistics for human beings that suffer equivalent injury to a bird losing its ability to fly but unfortunately it happens a lot. But if you pay close attention to it, you’ll notice more and more of these people interacting in society, living a life that is different, but rich and rewarding. It would seem that many who do find hardship falling into their life will do what the bird who can’t fly does and start to walk, using whatever abilities they have left to continue living. Once acceptance occurs, human beings have a remarkable ability to continue living and having a rich life.
The bird quote isn’t a direct comparison to a physical injury that a human can sustain, it’s a metaphoric equivalent to not having the ability to do something a particular way.
There is no doubt that the life of a now flightless bird is going to be different. It may have to adjust to eating different foods, particularly if it relied on flying to hunt, but it doesn’t mean that there is no food to eat, just that it’s going to be different food. Its shelter may not be the same, if, for example, it nested in a tree because it can’t fly to it, but it will find something that offers some protection and affords that bird the opportunity to rest in relative safety. It makes do and it keeps on trying to live.
The same is not true for most human beings. Many of them will see not having a particular ability as an insurmountable roadblock in the path to something they want and never consider the possibility that they may have other skills that would make it possible. We all know someone who wants something better than what they have but when you ask them what they are doing to achieve it they give you reasons why they aren’t actively pursuing it right now. For example, the friend who wants to be a manager but sees not having any management experience as the reason to not try, the female friend who wants to date a particular coworker but sees her height as a reason why he wouldn’t want to go out with her, the male friend who wants to have a better body but doesn’t know how to workout so doesn’t bother going to the gym because he doesn’t want to look or feel like stupid.
The lessons from “what is in the way IS the way” and “if a bird can’t fly, it walks” are exactly the same here. These people are defining the path they need to take to achieve their goal in terms of their limitations and therefore the only way to achieve a particular goal. If they were flightless birds they would have defined the path in terms of what they can do and come up with a second possible path, one that is passable based on their present abilities.
If you want to make life easier, you need to start thinking about challenges in terms of what you can do instead of what you cannot do. When you give reasons for why you can’t do something instead of coming up with solutions to address these deficits or ways to bi-pass them completely, you’re basically admitting that animals have more ambition and a stronger will than you do.