I’ve learned to recognize teachers in everything and everyone. The world is nothing if not an ongoing classroom. Today, I received a lesson on relating to ego from our little red rooster… .
We brought him and two little coachin hens (they have feathered feet – so cute!) home from the local flea market and loosed them in the henyard with the rest of the flock last weekend. As roosters go, Little Red, is rather small, being about half the size of a normal sized chicken … but his size did not deter this little guy one bit. It was amazing to watch one lone, pint-sized rooster take over the yard. Daniel and I sat in our back swing and watched it happen. No sooner had he arrived then the little rooster started banty-ing about, puffing up his tiny feathered chest to give an appearance of might and croaking his throaty rendition of a mighty crow. He methodically took on the dominant hens, one by one, with purpose and intention, thereby challenging the authority of the previously established pecking order. There would be first one stand-off and then another between Lil’ Red and the dominant hens – the two would rush each other, leaping into the air to clash their breasts together. The hen, being much larger, would inevitably fly higher, but the clever little rooster was not to be outdone. He would simply duck under the airborn hen, coming out behind her, and then rush in, pecking from the rear. He won every single challenge. Slowly he made his way around every inch of the henyard, rushing headlong into standing groups of hens, causing them to flutter and flee in panic. They didn’t stand a chance with him. In the meantime, his original harem of two followed close behind, keeping him between them and the rest of the flock, so that he served as their frontline protection, while they settled in. We were mesmerized, watching the whole process in action. That little rooster established himself as the undisputed ruler of the whole flock within an hour of his arrival. What a bodacious little fella! I felt real appreciation for his unabashed daring and forthrightness. I didn’t understand until later, how much he and I resemble one another.
Over the past week I’ve been seeing the many ways that resistance shows itself in me. It’s as if a layer of denial has peeled away, exposing, for my viewing pleasure, deeply entrenched remnants of ways I resist and attempt to control life. Denial, I suppose, had protected me from seeing the extent of defensive reaction in myself. My internal reaction to this self awareness was disappointment. This in itself has been disappointing, for I have learned that judging negativity does not help, as a matter of fact, if anything it makes it worse. But knowing this has not kept me from judging myself. Quite the opposite, my tendency has been to further condemn myself for not being more accepting of myself as I am.
It wasn’t until this morning that I realized the similarity between my own Napoleon-like ego and our little henyard rooster. I, like him, am ever vigilant to protect my turf… and so busily insistant that things be the way I think they “should” be. The difference is that I accept our little rooster because, “he’s just doing what roosters do” …. “Isn’t he something! Look how he banters about!” This ability to see without condemnation is sadly lacking in my view of self.
More than ever before, I am seeing how important it is to love and accept self. As I’ve struggled with these newly gained insights into my own resistances I’ve been able to watch myself go from disappointment to denial and then turn all that inner animosity into projection. I projected all that negative judgment towards myself on to Daniel and we had angry words. Oh and how attached I was to being right! How badly I wanted him to see the stubborn unconscious resistance in himself and confess it! “Apologize, damn you!”, ran my thoughts. Every single accusation I made about him, spoken and with-held, were my judgments about myself exactly. “He’s so resistant to everything!” “He’s got to be in control!” “He’s so stubborn … it HAS to be his way” … blah-blah. All of this is what I have been seeing and judging in myself. I realize that because I have been painfully judging myself it became necessary for me to project that ill-will out. And Daniel got chosen to be the lucky recipient! Lucky him, huh?
And the little crowing rooster comes to mind again. He’s just doing what roosters do – ego is just doing what egos do – so why the harsh criticism? I thought back on that little roosters dance… how he would maneuver his way under and behind the offending hen in order to win. That’s exactly how the ego works too. It dances … first challenging, then darting under and coming from the rear, always attacking … ever looking for ways to stay in charge.
Then comes the biggest revelation of all. I realized that I cannot love Daniel or anyone else as long as I refuse myself forgiveness. Sooner or later all that self hatred gets projected onto my external world … and I will hate whatever I’ve made into the enemy out there. This is why self acceptance is imperative … I cannot find peace in my world until I am at peace within. I cannot have a loving relationship with one other person until I can be loving to me. That’s just the way it is. Until I can see what my ego does with the same degree of detachment with which I watched our little rooster do his control shuffle in the henyard I will continue to experience resistance within and without.
This morning I started the road back to self acceptance by sharing my realizations with Daniel and apologizing to him for projecting my resistances on to him. He listened in silence … which was perfect because it’s not his forgiveness I need but my own. He cannot grant me forgiveness … that is mine to offer me and it will come from my willingness to accept the little rooster ego in me as simply doing what egos do.