Roast Chicken with Dreams

Ministhy Dileep | February 12,2014 05:01 pm IST

When Abraham Maslow wanted to explain "the urge to be the best", he used a poetic phrase: "The press within an acorn to be an oak tree"*. Remember Chicken Licken in the Granny Tales? He ran for his life when the acorn fell on his head.

He thought the sky was falling down. He ended up in Foxy Loxy's stomach - and not as a King Rooster. That little Chicken resembles a lot of us. We look at acorns of opportunities as monsters that can hurt in gigantic proportions. We usually run screeching for dear life. (And Maslow romanticized the acorns, poor guy.)


The fear of unexplored horizons breathes life to the Chicken Lickens in us. About which, Emily Dickinson** wrote thus:


"The heroism we recite
Would be a daily thing,
Did not ourselves the cubits warp
For fear to be a King."


Why do we warp the cubits, pray? Why don't we dream and dare to actualize our potential? Why do we end up as the morning snack of the arrogant Foxy Loxys of the world? Those whose dreams include chewing us out on a daily basis.


Atkinson et al opined that it could be something to do with "Fear of failure"***. What if the acorn turns out to be the sky, yaar? Much better to be in a safe rut than fall down the slope due to "over ambition". And Chicken gets eaten with the cheese of dreams, and sometimes with dreamy margarine.


One Chicken got roasted thus: She decided to play small so that her spouse did not feel threatened. And packed her State Award for the Best Actress along with the old churidhars - away from his sight. And hers.


Another became a tandoori dish: She decided to put off having children because someone told her, she wouldn't get sleep for seven years. This time the tandoori got burnt rather badly.


The last dish I know is a particularly bad Chicken sandwich: The guy had always wanted to learn to sing. Asked why he didn't apply for music courses, the Busy Executive rationalized, "There is no money in it."


And then there is the other extreme: that original connoisseur of cuisines - Michael Jordan. Who can give all Chicken Lickens of the world a run for their money. When he reemerged from retirement with the Washington Wizards, some nut case asked him: "Michael, why did you come back at such an age?" The great Jordan later quoted the incident and gave a piece of advice to the bubbling Chickens of the world, who are already marinating in turmeric and green chilly.


"Do yourself a favor - and don't let any one else tell you what your dreams should be." Voila, Johnson - you basketed that ball, all right.


Marianne Williams said****, "We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? But actually, who are you NOT TO BE?" Good Question.


But try telling that to the abused wife, who endures hits and bashes, both mentally and physically because she dare not believe that she deserves something much better. Or quoting that to the disillusioned young man who keeps plugging away at the mediocre job, when his whole heart wants to take off to do a doctorate in Aeronautical Engineering. Wonder how the Supply-Demand equation looks like to make the Chickens so cheap in life's business?


No wonder we have the phrase, "To chicken off". Its time to welcome acorns that fall on our heads, reminding us that time is running out. The time to achieve our humble dreams. To sing, to dance, to climb, to win. And to realize that the worst we can do to ourselves is to "Fear to be a King."


So order Chicken noodles, with capsicum and pepper. (Not with your dreams) And relish it to the strains of the old battle song*****:


"Are Riches worth the getting?
They must be bravely sought;
With wishing and with fretting
The boon cannot be bought:
To all the prize is open,
But only he can take it
Who says, with Roman courage,
'I'll find a way, or make it!'"


* Maslow, 1971.
** Emily Dickinson, " Aspiration", Anthology of American Poetry, Crown Publishers, 1983.
*** Atkinson & Birch, 1964.
**** Op.Cite, Sarah Ban Breathnach, "Romancing the Ordinary", Simple Abundance Press, 2002, pg.166.
***** John Godfrey Saxe, (1816-1887), "Where there is a will, there is a way". 


Ministhy S. is PG (PM&IR) from XLRI-Jamshedpur, and currently, an IAS officer working in the UP cadre. She has written five books - 'Unequal Equations', 'Learning with Tippy Tortoise: Tales for Kids', 'Happy Birthday: Poems for Kids' and a novel published by Dronequill Publishers, Bangalore....