Lessons from a Rooster
Lila and I have been living in Mexico for two years and 8 days and I cannot count the lessons that have presented themselves to me since we landed. Pretty much every day I receive an opportunity to clarify who I am (or who I want to be), to let go of what no longer serves me (or maybe never did), and to shed layer after layer of outdated opinions, patterns, ways of being, beliefs or illusions. It's exhausting, it's exhilarating and it's so darn real. Little by little my life has become both brighter, and more peaceful. I regularly do things I never thought I would do, and say things I never thought I would say,
Such as: "So, I took a shower with the rooster."
My house got finished about 20 hours before some of my kids arrived for the holidays, the stucco on the tiny guest house still a little wet. Ensued two love-filled weeks which gently morphed the house into a Home. Back from taking them to the airport, I could feel both the big hole that was left behind and the invitation to finally live here, to take it in and settle into the embrace. No more workers coming and going, no more construction piles in the yard. I could hardly believe it and many times in the last couple of weeks, I have shaken my head in awe of the whole thing.
Lila, Tiji and I eased into a sweet routine, friends visited, I was finally able to give the garden some attention and I started dreaming up the possibility of manifesting my 30-year dream of creating a small pottery studio.
Then, He showed up.
Just a couple of days ago, as I was sitting at my computer doing some work, I heard a soft cooing, a sound I had not heard here before. In the last couple of months, I have become very aware of all sounds (is the pump turning off? Is this the water delivery man coming down the road?) and so when something new reached my ears, I looked for its source. A small rooster.
While I was having words with myself about how I had not seen any chickens around here yet, he walked through my makeshift wooden gate, took one look around, and decided that this would do, he would move in.
First, I am not fond of birds of any kind getting close to me. I love watching them from afar, their songs delight me but distance is important in my ability to appreciate them. Too close, they freak me out. The blend of fragile and unpredictable, the speed, the little eyes, the sharp beaks. Heck, I dunno. When it comes to birds I need boundaries.
This guy seemed short in the boundary department and within minutes he was in my kitchen. Then on top of my stove. Then in my bedroom.
For some reason, neither Tiji nor Lila made a peep.
I called my sister who loves chickens and she immediately said things like "he's so cute" and "do you have any oats you could give him?" I had a small bag of Quaker Oats and mistake number one, I poured him a cup of it. Wowzer did he ever like this! He then strutted over to the water bowl, had a big old drink of fresh, purified water, and settled in for the day.
It was novel, it was kind of cool. I marveled at how many bugs he ate. Soon I was Googling "do roosters eat scorpions?" and the answer was yes. Maybe Mr. Rooster was a Gift? Maybe I could learn to live with him? Maybe I would eventually learn to love him?
Something about the whole process (walks in, looks novel and exotic, makes himself comfortable, disrupts my peace then makes himself useful, then makes me question my boundaries) felt vaguely familiar but I was too busy picking up his socks, I mean cleaning up his seemingly endless supplies of poops to get very introspective.
I heard myself say things like: "good chickens stay outside" while rapidly pushing the trigger on my small water bottle, thinking maybe I could train him to not go into the house.
He had found us, he had made it clear he liked it here (Quaker Oats, remember?) and it was now my job to figure out how to absorb him into our lives, keep him happy and try to keep me sane. Each time he ate a spider I nodded and added it to the "this could be a good thing." list.
The day passed and the sun came down over the jungle. Things got softer as they do here at night. The sounds changed. I washed dishes, put on some cello music, lit some copal incense, and felt the cool air through the windows. Lila and Tiji had dinner and all was peaceful again. For a little while, I forgot about Mr. Rooster and his disruptive ways. I would take a nice hot shower and get in bed.
I love my shower. It is open, roomy, with little round river rocks on the bottom. It has a nice window that opens just the way I love for windows to open: French style. It looks out into the garden at the twinkly outside lights and it makes for a huge nightly treat for me. Especially since I remember what it took to get it looking this way AND working, hot water and all.
I walk to the bathroom, take off my clothes, take a step towards the shower - and There He Is.
On my window sill. In my shower. Looking like he is sleeping.
I call my sister.
"Awww, she says" as though I am sharing the sweetest news ever. "He is roosting! The sun came down and he is roosting for the night." She then goes on about how lucky I am that he put himself to bed without me having to do anything at all and how wonderful this all is.
I go outside and look at him from the front. Yup. Eyes closed. Looking mighty comfy.
I go back in the shower and look at him from the back.
I still want a shower. I'm still having a shower.
So I do.
In order to turn on the faucet I have to touch one of his feathers which I do not enjoy, but I do. I take a nice long hot shower. He gets wet, doesn't seem to care. This is weird as heck.
The next morning, everyone is up and I can tell he had a great night's sleep. He is now looking for breakfast and also, I think, looking forward to many more mornings waking up here, in this nice comfy house of Quaker Oats and hot showers. Me, I am wondering how this is all going to work, as I am picking up poop, as I am keeping my big doors closed ("it's easier than fighting him"), and by-passing my morning of pleasure of opening the house wide. Again, this feels familiar.
As I feed Lila, he tries to fight for her food. THIS I do not like. THIS wakes up something in me. This whole thing may not work out after all.
My friend comes over and falls over laughing at this new development. She reminds me many times about my "they were here first" mantra about not killing bugs and learning to live in harmony with it all. "You will live with spiders and lizards and flying cockroaches but you can't live with this sweet bird?"
Before we leave for the day, she manages to get him outside the gate and when Lila and I come home at night, he is back walking around in the yard, wondering what's for dinner and what time we are having a shower.
By nightfall, I have closed the shower and he has found a new perch. All tucked in, he is roosting again. I kinda marvel at his natural timing, the roosting thing. I didn't know about this, it's cool. I am learning something, I am inspired, maybe this will be good? I hear myself, and again I recognize a thought pattern.
It is morning once more and the sun is rising over the jungly mountain. Last night I brought Lila's food inside. Mr. Rooster is walking around and looking inside the house.
I have had some thoughts, some realizations. I am starting to see The Gift and I am not sure that a natural bug-eating buddy is it. I think The Gift might be bigger.
- Just because someone walks into your life doesn't mean you should immediately make room for him/her.
- Just because someone makes themselves useful doesn't mean you should trade your peace of mind for it. Or your pleasure.
Also, just because someone loves your home, life, and looks doesn't mean you should hand them over. This one is a big one for me, The Big One, and Mr. Rooster just might have shown up to help me unravel an agreement I unknowingly made half a century ago and which I am now ready to shed.
Let's see what today brings.
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