Living the Chicken-Eyed Life

My mother reads the New York Times, and for many years she used to cut out articles she loved and save them. One year, she gave me as gift a folder with thirty or so of her favorite essays from the NYT Journal. These days,she reads the newspaper on the kindle, and there are no more loose pieces of magnificent journalistic writing floating about the house. Instead, my mother points me out to links on the internet. “You have to read this,” she explains. And sometimes, like this morning, I do.

Chickens on the Loose.” That’s the name of the Verlyn Klinkenborg editorial, recommended by my mother, which I read this morning. Even before delving in, I loved the title. I had chickens in my coop for more than a year, and then they stopped laying. I read somewhere that they can stop laying if they are afraid, which I considered could be the reason, given the owl, coyote and mountain lion prowling around my house. Having chickens was fun, not just because of the fresh eggs, but also because of their view of life. As Mr. Klikenborg says about his brood, chickens have boundless optimism, “the world seems perfectly adjusted to their expectations.”

How amazing is that! I can see Mr. Klinkenborg’s chickens running around his yard, pecking here and there, searching for grain and worms. Their world is a world of abundance, ask and it is given, search and the worm is there. They come to the door of the house, he writes, and look inside, “first with one eye, then the other,” and he explains, “they live in a monocular world, after all.” I knew just what he meant about the chickens tilting their heads as they looked at him, but what did he mean by monocular world?

Monocular Vision, according to Biology Online, “is a type of vision found mainly in animals with eyes placed on opposite sides of their head.” This has advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, these animals’ eyes work separately and they can see more than one object at a time. On the minus side, their depth perception is limited and they can’t judge distance very well. Mostly predators have this type of vision, and chickens, whether we think of them as such or not, are a predator to the worm and to little flies. How cool is this? Chickens have more than one perspective of the world and less depth to what they see. Maybe that’s what gives them their innocent trust in the world.

I am so different, continually judging the depth of impact for every single occurrence in my life. I look every which way, miss more than half of what is going on around me, and then over-think it to death. Perhaps it is time for me to learn something from the chicken, the wonder of discovery, the possibility that a worm hides behind every leaf, and the philosophical (yet careful) acceptance of danger nearby.

2 Responses to Living the Chicken-Eyed Life

  1. Anonymous April 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    I need to be more like a chicken at times. It would lessen the disappointment I have of mankind overall.

  2. Sigal Tzoore April 5, 2012 at 6:10 am #

    I also like the innocence and simplicity with which chickens seem to live. It’s so different from our life with the rush to make money and the pressure to succeed. They eat, sleep, peck about, lay eggs. Their life seems predictable and orderly and attractive. But I wonder, if I was a chicken, would I still think my life is easier? Or would I then envy the worm for its much easier and simpler life. Maybe even for the chickens the stress of finding worms becomes overwhelming at times.

Sigal Tzoore (650) 815-5109