Learning from Chickens

I have been watching the chickens a lot this summer. I have found that some of them like to be by themselves, but one of them panics every time she notices that she is alone. This particular chicken is named Wolverine. (This because the feather arrangement around her face reminded us of Wolverine’s sideburns.)

Wolverine will follow the flock as they move through an area and then suddenly she gets distracted by something and wanders in a completely different direction. When she notices that she is alone, she begins to make a cry that sounds very much like, “I’m alone, I’m alone!”

When she starts to make this call one of the chickens will rush back to her and try to escort her back to the flock. This only works for a short distance, because once again she has had her attention caught by something else. The process is then repeated. Only this time two chickens come to get her. And again, she gets distracted and moves in the wrong direction. This last time the whole flock comes for her. They put her in the middle of the group and proceed toward their destination.

Watching Wolverine interact with the flock made me think of some people I have known who get distracted by life and get lost. Not everyone cries out though, and sometimes some are forever lost.

I know that there have been times in my own life where I have felt lost and cut off from other people. Loneliness is a very pernicious thing. It sometimes sneaks up on me when I least expect it. Everything seems to be going well until I realize that that lovely time alone has become a lonely time alone.

Winter is often a hard time for me. I don’t go out much, to begin with, and it is harder for me to get around in the cold. I am planning ahead this year. I have started looking for people to start a reading group. I am also looking at doing a shift at our local cooperative coffee shop (you work for tips and conversation). Things that get me out and about with other people are high on my to do list.

Watching the chickens and their community have shown me ways to not only get my needs met but also to be more aware of others who have gotten lost and are trying the best they can to call out, “I’m lost!” I have been in that dark and lonely place. Many years ago isolation was the only way I felt safe. It was also the loneliest time in my life. Even though people are surrounded by other people it does not mean that they are not lonely.

As we head into the end of summer and the return of sweaters and colder nights keep your eyes, heart, and ears open for anyone who may be calling out into the void for someone to be friends with. Helping other people is the best way to combat loneliness in yourself as well as help others. I hate the phrase, studies show. But studies do show that people who are in busy in acts of service to others have less depression and loneliness. It is also a good way to make friends.



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