The chicken wasn't magnificent or great,
not really. All he wanted to do was just cross the damn road, for his
own reasons, and be left alone. It wasn't an action guided
by the Hand of God, nor was it some government plot devised to lull the
masses into submission. The chicken was there, the
road was there and whatever was on the other side was important only to the
chicken; he was minding his own business. It
was the farmer, sitting in his crickety old wooden rocking chair, his lazy
old dog at his feet enjoying the warm sun, who made note of the
chicken crossing the road and thought to himself, "Now, that
chicken has got some balls. Could get hit by traffic, but he's
out there on a mission, it looks like. Hmm...
this might be a good conversation piece. I'll see Frank tomorrow, at the diner,
an' open up with, 'Hey, Frank, why did the chicken cross the road?' And he'll
say, 'Dunno, Arlo. Why?' An' I'll say, 'Well, to get to the other side,
of course.' Heheh... good joke. Frank'll like that one."
The chicken wasn't special in any particular way, but because old Arlo fancied
himself a good joke-teller, that chicken will live in infamy and
people will forever speculate about why. Trust me. Chickens
don't think that far ahead, nor do they see themselves as heroes
of lore, worthy of timeless jokes and bad puns.
I once told someone that every single person on Earth has a fascinating
story to tell. They may not be articulate or intelligent enough to lay the
story out and make it interesting, but if you take the sum of
a person's experiences and string them together in a book.... wow.
The things you could learn about humanity. Autobiographies barely scratch
the surface of my point here. As Shakespeare
said, "All the world is a stage..." What makes a person worthy
of mention isn't their inherent nature as "a great man in history."
Oh, no, it's the story-teller that happened to take note of that person. The
historians make people great. Caesar was just trying to run a country. Einstein
was just doing his thing with math and physics. Armstrong was just being an
astronaut. Freud was just trying to figure people out. The people who
are celebrated as being "great" most likely didn't consider themselves
to be all that wonderful when they were doing whatever it was they're known
for, probably. I'm sure there are a few minor exceptions, people "destined
for greatness", but I'm willing the bet that the vast majority of those
who live in infamy thought of themselves as merely people doing what they
like to do or are best at, not realizing the scope of their actions- or who
was watching at the time.
In the long run, it's not that the chicken was special for crossing the road.
It's that Arlo was around to witness the event and share it with someone else.
That is what makes people, or events, great. Someone
had the wherewithall to make note of it and pass it on to someone who might
The world is already a better place. It's going along just
as it should, kinda like that chicken, and just doing its
thing. As soon as more of us stop and pay attention to that, the world will
seem like a better place.
This is why I often tell my friends, and strangers, too, that "It's all
a matter of perspective." I try to keep my eyes open and see what that
crazy chicken is going to do next.