I walked out from my front door this morning and enjoyed the sunshine on my face, thinking about the vitamin D that would be created within my body.
I walked over to the chicken coop where our two chickens, Lacey and Summer, spend their days pecking and scratching. With the garage on my right, I was reminded that the wood panels and trim need a second coat of paint before they are installed in the re-modeled bathroom.
Today’s work consists of painting and chicken care.
I’ve never taken care of chickens before, which leaves a lot to be learned. A burning vision of the farm life and a jump-right-in attitude lead my wife and I head-first into many projects and adventures. Things like bathroom re-models, chicken ownership, and marriage.
I have memories of my grandfather who had chickens. I sometimes took kitchen scraps out to feed them, but I was always a bit scared to enter their coop. It never really occurred to me when I was young that it would be useful to learn how to raise vegetables and chickens from my grandfather.
When he died some 15 years ago, so did his years of knowledge and wisdom, leaving me to fumble and learn on my own. I cannot help but to think that things would be much more efficient if he were still around to provide guidance.
And so as I kneeled next to the coop this morning, shovelling two (yes two) buckets full of chicken poop, I had the thought that “shit is part of life and sometimes radical non-acceptance is necessary.”
I italicize and underline “non” because normally the new-age-pop-psychology-Buddhist-inspired wisdom preaches radical acceptance of events, emotions, and our constant stream of thoughts as a means to lessen our frustration and despair from life’s challenges. With acceptance comes a light heart, flexibility, and well-being. I believe acceptance to be a true skill, a skillful means towards enhanced happiness and harmony with others.
On the other hand, acceptance does not mean that we just lay down quietly and and never take bold action in our life.
Some events in life have a distinctly chicken-poop-like quality. Some events have a stinky, perhaps germ-infested, and toxic component to them. We can all list off the injustices. I’m not talking about events like getting cut-off on the freeway. In that case go with the radical acceptance and understanding that the other person’s driving is not a personal attack on you. I am talking about injustices like large income inequality, slave trade, and racial prejudice. Certain events have a smearing of injustice, like innocent men and women being locked in jail and powerful leaders that abuse their citizens. In these scenarios, the skillful action is radical non-acceptance.
I am not saying that we do not accept certain people. In fact, I think it is most effective to confront injustices when we do indeed fully accept other people and treat them with respect. However, I am saying that we radically do not accept and stand-up against people’s actions that are rooted in greed, hatred, ignorance and anger.
As others of you, like me, raise chickens and children or any other types of wild animals; we will come into contact with poop daily. My days will be spent scooping chicken poop, washing poopy cloth baby diapers, and flushing my own number twos. Let this work be a reminder to stand up against social injustices rooted in greed and anger.
Let life’s excrement not be a waste of time and energy, but a reminder that there is no waste of time or energy. Each moment can be an opportunity for enhancing our experience with awareness and mindfulness.
Even our poop goes back into the earth to enrich the soil and provide nutrients for food to grow. So, take life’s poopy experiences and transform them into sustaining life through the accurate use of acceptance and non-acceptance.
With ample light, we can grow from the seeds of wisdom, well-being, and harmony.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Ian Chittle
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Wikimedia Commons