Monday, August 17, 2015

Eagles and Chickens

The Eagle Who Thought He Was a Chicken:
A baby eagle became orphaned when something happened to his parents. He glided down to the ground from his nest but was not yet able to fly. A man picked him up. The man took him to a farmer and said, “This is a special kind of barnyard chicken that will grow up big.” The farmer said, “Don’t look like no barnyard chicken to me.” “Oh yes, it is. You will be glad to own it.” The farmer took the baby eagle and placed it with his chickens.
The baby eagle learned to imitate the chickens. He could scratch the ground for grubs and worms too. He grew up thinking he was a chicken.
Then one day an eagle flew over the barnyard. The eagle looked up and wondered, “What kind of animal is that? How graceful, powerful, and free it is.” Then he asked another chicken, “What is that?” The chicken replied, “Oh, that is an eagle. But don’t worry yourself about that. You will never be able to fly like that.”
And the eagle went back to scratching the ground. He continued to behave like the chicken he thought he was. Finally he died, never knowing the grand life that could have been his.
I don’t know who the author of the above website is. There are many versions of this story. In some versions the eagle eventually recognises his true nature and soars up into the heavens.

I suppose that’s all great if you actually are an eagle who mistakenly thinks it’s a chicken. The trouble is ... I suspect most of us are chickens who think we’re eagles. And therein lies the source of so many of our difficulties. The ever-present guilt so many of us feel arises from the fact that we constantly fail to do those things that an eagle can do, but a chicken cannot. Of course we constantly fail, because we are chickens, not eagles. And what’s wrong with being a chicken? Nothing at all.

Perhaps our lives would be far less stressful (and the world a better place) if all us chickens stopped trying to be eagles.


  1. Maybe life is all about striving to be an eagle and if we don't quite make it we can always be happy being a chicken.

  2. Hi Phillip,
    Part of the story is that the Eagle life is somehow better than the chicken life. I am not sure that the eagle life is intrinsically better than the chicken life - other than it is simply different. Oh, and it appears wonderful and powerful to be soaring above everything and killing for food.
    But the chicken life is just as fulfilling and complete and enough.
    I think this story is about the idea of enough, and how we all feel inadequate if we are not meeting some higher purpose.

    1. Lol, it's funny how you capitalize the 'Eagle,' and not the 'Chicken.' So underneath it all, you really value the life of the Eagle more.

  3. Hi Bren. Thanks for your thoughts. Like you, I think being a chicken is just fine.

  4. I think that quite a few of us are "Eagles," but have been brainwashed from birth into believing that we're Chickens.

    1. I think it's about time we admitted we are chickens, and that that's a fine thing to be.