Where the Land Meets the Sky

I was feeding my chickens some kitchen scraps after one of my children’s birthday parties recently, and there was a mountain of discarded organic pizza crusts in my pile of chicken treats. The chickens all came running. The first few to get the top of the pizza-crust pile immediately ran off with them, whereupon all the other slower chickens gave chase. They started to try to peck and snatch pizza crusts out of the beaks of the faster chickens. There was a lot of squawking going on; one could clearly hear a lot of chicken for “No Fair” being protested. But only about one-third of the total crusts had been grabbed by those early birds — the remainder of the pile sat just to the left of the fracas. The second wave of chickens were so fixated on “having what they’re having” that they ran straight past a much greater treasure, which still lay unclaimed on the ground.

I continued watching and listening to the cackles and screeches as the pizza-crust war ensued. I wondered to myself how many times in life we humans echo the very same behavior of the chickens?

How many times might we be going up against other candidates for the same job? We advance so fast in our focus for this one job, yet in our haste, we ignore other potential positions that may be languishing just to the left of us. Or in friendship, how many times do we hustle, flapping our feathers and jumping for crumbs of that crust, constantly proving ourselves worthy of that ever-aloof person’s friendship? When there’s a neighbor just to your left, who will end up becoming an even dearer friend to you than you could imagine, as soon as you stop and see her waiting patiently, right over there. Or like that annual family event we think we all NEED to run fast toward, attend and squawk with everyone else while there? When a perfectly lovely day of solitude could be found over yonder instead. I’m willing to bet fresh farm eggs that running for what we think we need, and not looking at what we’re running past to get to it, is an all too common trait, for many of us, myself included.

Feeling scientific and experimental, I directed myself to look for metaphorical “discarded pizza crusts,” whenever that chicken-y, “No Fair” feeling welled up in me, and I’m happy to report there are piles of pizza crust everywhere! Did you just get cut in line by someone at the grocery store? Why look to your left: There are more people in the next aisle, but there’s also a PhD psychology student who’s going to mumble a profound pearl of wisdom at you as you chat in line together, changing the entire course of your day.

So, try it for yourself: Apply the DPR (Discarded Pizza Rule) whenever you feel your chicken-brain is taking over, because sometimes, life is like a beautiful heap of unclaimed pizza crusts and you never know what delights are waiting over there, just to your left.

Etienne White lives where the land meets the sky on a farm in Iowa County where she raises grass-fed, Old English Babydoll sheep, as well as pastured chickens, a happy farm dog, a wily barn cat and her two spirited children. She runs a consulting business working at the intersection of sustainability and marketing, and is a sought-after speaker on sustainability in the United States and Europe.