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Monday, May 27, 2013

How Chicken Catching is a Metaphor for Singing

On Saturday of this past weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to visit a local organic produce stand, which happens to have a small farm on the premises where you can see all of the animals in their stalls.  After we had finished purchasing our produce, we took a stroll around the grounds, visiting and petting the goats, pigs, ponies, horses and cows, and it was while we were looking at the cows that we witnessed a true crisis situation unfolding right in front of our eyes.  Someone had accidentally left the door to the chicken house wide open and nearly all 500 chickens were now emerging onto the grounds outside of their house, as if they did this every afternoon.  The only thing that made us realize it was an emergency was because the workers were running around screaming and waving their hands in frustration as chicken after chicken flew, hopped or ran away from them. 

It was quickly unfolding into a full-blown catastrophe when we realized that they were calling for other people from the farm to come help them, but when we looked around we couldn't see anyone within earshot.  It was then that my boyfriend said to me, "Jul, we should go help them!" and I said feebly "But, how? I don't know the first thing about chicken catching!"  Then, after an admonishing look from him, I decided it was time to put aside my fears, and walked over to ask how I could help.  Funny enough, I was better at the whole thing than I thought, though I had no previous experience with chickens in the least, and of course, like every other challenge, it proved to be a valuable learning experience. 

The woman from the farm who was in charge of the chicken corralling mission explained to me that chickens feel most comfortable in groups and that we should use large wooden boards to herd them into smaller packs and then lead them back into the building where their coops were.  It was harder than I had imagined at first, because we had to remain totally calm and move at a very steady, slow pace during the herding, otherwise they could sense that we were rushing, or anxious, and they'd immediately scatter in all directions, thus making it necessary to start all over again with the herding.  So, we tried our best.  And it was funny!  During the process there were, of course, those couple chickens that simply decided something wasn't right about this herding situation, who turned tail and flew above the boards and out of our grasp, but sure enough, we eventually got them into one of the small groups and safely into the building.  The chickens' excited and nervous state made it imperative that we remained calm and exercise patience while herding, because they reacted immediately to each change in our collective energy.  Over the course of the process, we got better and better at herding and corralling bigger and bigger groups of chickens, and also losing fewer.  It was a hard-earned victory, but after two and a half hours, we had captured them all.  When the last chicken was back in her coop, we went to the bathroom to wash the mud and dirt off of our hands and jackets, satisfied with the help that we provided.  Later on, we found out that there were no other workers on the farm that day other than the ones who were already helping, because it was a Saturday.  So, my boyfriend was definitely right when he said we should help, and I know the farm workers were glad we did too!

Now you're probably wondering how this all ties in with some crazy metaphor about singing.  Well, I realized on Saturday that the whole process of catching, corralling and herding those chickens was very similar to learning to sing.  (Stay with me here....) At first, it seems like there's so much to do you don't even know where to start.  And, you're not sure if you should even begin, because beginning would mean that you'd open yourself up to the chance that you might fail.  Then, once you've overcome your fears about failing and have started, you realize that there are ways which make the doing of it much easier than others.  For example, when you stay calm and do things slowly and steadily more progress is made that you might have first believed.  However, once you realize which method works best for you, you keep on employing it, and eventually you gain competency and fluidity thereby increasing your pace, until you are doing things in a successful and time-efficient way every time. 

The difficulties about singing were also beautifully present in the chicken caper.  When we try to learn something too fast, or when we're not ready, normally the entire thing goes badly.  And, if you don't remain calm and concentrate solely on each task as you're completing it, you'll get lost in the details and worry about the one escaping chicken, when you should be glad that you've caught the other 7 chickens successfully.

So, when singing starts to feel like a bunch of escaping chickens, remember: they'll all get back into their coops eventually, and you can help them along by staying calm and focused!

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