We raise chickens. Not many. We have 3 left at the moment. Well, I guess 2 now. Not really for eating, but for eggs, and the joy of watching them traipse around and be funny.
My Americauna, a regal but tragically stupid bird, met her demise the other day. We’re not entirely sure what happened. Sometime in the afternoon, my wife found a pillow’s worth of feathers scattered in the yard. A clear indication of a kerfuffle.
We speculated that a larger bird had carried her away.
We felt sad.
A few hours later I hear my wife and kids screaming in the back yard. I went out to find the damned chicken, her head pushed into a half dead pile of brush in the yard. Alive. The children praised it as a miracle, my wife as a testament to the heartiness of birds.
But the enthusiasm didn’t last. When I got closer, I noticed a hideous cut spanning from her back to belly. And not like a scratch, like a bad, mortal wound. The lil’ clucker was terminal.
Poor fucking bird.
5 minutes later, I had a chicken and a hatchet by a stump of wood.
There’s no happy ending to this story. The chicken died. The rest of us lived. But if you think I’m just being over sentimental about a bird (which I am), there’s a point to this. I feel like killing this half dead bird really illuminated an experience I’ve had again and again whenever I’m taking on a new or ambitious hobby. (Yeah, in this instance that hobby is birdicide).
The hardest part of any new undertaking is the point of commitment. A point of no return.
The moment when you know your next action will bring about a situation where the stakes go up. It might be as serious as telling your boss that you’ll build the new corporate website (even though you’ve never build a website before), or it might be that moment when you start sanding the top of that antique table to refinish the top. It might be when you finally decide to post that novel on amazon and tell your friends. Hell, it might be as simple as committing and sharing the idea that you’re going to start dress nicer.
That first stroke takes courage and commitment. Inertia is real and heavy. There’s the threat of failure (which is real), the threat of embarrassment (which is real), the threat of you realizing you might not be who you thought you are (which is also real). But there’s as much empowerment in action as there is safety is stillness.
When I had that hatchet, I knew when my hand came down that the chicken was gone. Any hope of healing her was gone. And did I hesitate a quick moment before I did it?
Sure. But you know what. I did it.