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Opinionated Octogenarian, 2 A, A Little Chicken Story

August 11, 2014

A Little Chicken Story

Edvard Grieg, Norwegian composer and pianist, victim of lung disease, pleurisy, and tuberculosis once said, “Life is not tragic. It’s just ridiculous.” Life is sometimes strange, absurd, nonsensical or uncertain, but the man, who set to music In the Hall of the Mountain King, used the word ridiculous. Edvard Grieg, 1847-1907, did not become an octogenarian, nor even a septuagenarian, but he had in interesting perspectives of life’s eccentricities.

Some think octogenarians enter a second childhood, but perhaps we never left the first. A portion of childhood remains always in our hearts and minds, and we need to keep that sense of wonder. Take a tale I remember from my childhood, Chicken Little. I find a theme reoccurring in my life there.

Chicken Little in the fable of the same name slept under an oak tree, and while he slept, the wind blew an acorn or his head. He awoke in a great panic, rubbed his smarting head, and thought, “Oh my gosh! The sky is falling.” Occasionally this octogenarian has a similar thought as I maximize incidents beyond a normal scope.

I woke this morning with a cramp in my left leg. I sat up quickly to rub my smarting calf.

“What’s the matter?” grumbled my awakened husband.

Nothing. Go back to sleep,” I said, massaging the muscle..

“What are you doing?” he continued.

Nothing. just rubbing a cramp out of my leg.” I put my feet on the floor and shook the leg. It seemed all right, and the tight muscle disappeared. I tried to go back to sleep, but I was awake . A tremor of apprehension crept into my brain. Was something more serious the matter? Was this a warning? Perhaps I should exercise more? Perhaps—

Sometimes I make mountains from molehills, and this molehill in my thoughts was keeping me awake.

There are many versions of the story about the little chicken. Its roots date back 2500 years. An American version was printed in 1865 in Boston. Nearly 100 years later, Disney put the little chicken in the movies. But the story illustrates that imaginations can supplant common sense. Even chickens get into trouble when they maximize or misinterpret incidents.

Chicken Little told his friends about his experience, and they decided to warn the king. In their haste, they awakened Foxy Loxy. The devious and hungry fox planned to take advantage of their confusion. With every intention of eating them, he led them to his den. A watchful squirrel divined the wicked intentions of the fox and warned the chickens. After thanking the squirrel, the group proceeded to tell the king.

Several endings exist, but in the ending best known, the wise king examined Chicken Little’s head. Discovering the acorn, he sent the chickens home with a warning to examine the evidence before jumping to conclusions.

There must be a mentality among chickens and people, who act on their fears irrationally, not thinking about the possibilities inherent in misreading and misinterpreting situations.

But the importance of incidents can be difficult to judge. Sometimes events are not acorns but predictions of real disasters..

At the end of July, 2014, there is evidence that the sky, not acorns, is falling. Perhaps the end of world-peace approaches. There seems little to be optimistic about on the national economic scene, and refugee children from South America over-run the  U.S. border. On the international scene, Israel and Hamas are at war. Russia encourages separatists in Ukraine to war on the government and are supplying them with missiles that they used to take down passenger jets. Terrorists have taken over portions of Syria and Iraq, determined to establish a terrorist state, and terrorists in Mosul, formerly Ninevah, blew the tomb of Jonah to smitherines. It may have been easier to live three days in a whale than rest in peace in Iraq. Surely these are not little acorns but evidence of a falling sky.

“The world is going to rack and to ruin,” sings thoroughly modern  Millie. But that was 1922, and the world has not been totally ruined yet: Will the sun light the sky tomorrow? How can we retain our equanimity or keep a sense of wonder under a gloomy sky?

Perhaps the Norwegian composer Edvard Grieg offered a thought to lighten our outlook; “Life is not a tragedy. It’s just ridiculous.” Think about it.

-to be contd.-


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