Waxing Philosophical: Little Black Hen

A fact about me: I like to joke that I hoard chickens. I have six dinosaurs living in the back yard. One of them is a bantam named Puck. Fully grown, she is pigeon-sized – small, round, black, and the first night I got her, she hurled herself from a rooftop, halfway across the yard in a giant parabola, flying like well-smacked hockey puck.

Yesterday I watched Puck poke around near some flowers.

Unbeknownst to her, she was walking right on top of the grave of a white chicken, named Pillow. Poor Pillow died in January last year during a ~40C heat wave. (Digging graves for pets is the kind of digging that I don’t dream about.)

Watching Puck yesterday got me pondering. If Pillow hadn’t died, Puck would not be walking on Pillow’s grave. Puck wouldn’t even have come to live with us. She would have ended up in a small-town fodder store, and then sold to who knows where.

Puck wouldn’t have been named Puck, but something else by another owner, like Daisy or Berry, or whatever else people like to name their chooks.

I felt a strange wonderment, then. Similar conditions apply to all of us.

The lady who lived in our house before us was an Italian woman, Mrs B.R, who passed away in old age. (My partner continued to receive her magazine subscription from Italy for a good decade, until I moved in and plugged a polite request to unsubscribe into a translating app and emailed that to the editor in Italian.)

Mrs. B.R walked on the same linoleum tiles as us.

If she had gone on living – besides scoring an entry in he Guinness Book of World Records for having the most birthdays ever – Mrs. B.R could still be living here, and this house wouldn’t be our home. We would be somewhere else.

How many resting places in antiquity do we unknowingly walk over, every day?

The only reason any of us lead the lives we do is because other people in history have made room for us. For better or worse, their actions, lives and passing away – all of these have determined how our lives are sized, and shaped.

Call it a thought experiment, or an exercise in sonder; maybe this is the butterfly effect, or a glimpse of Indra’s net. It was just something that struck me, watching a little bantam chicken, scratching the earth and going about her day.

Puck beside the Everlastings

Other two images from