You Do not Die of Starving but the Fear of It

In our journey of self-realization, many of us now know the worn-out phrase that everything depends on us, that we should think positively, but rarely anyone can practically apply it when life brings them to a dead end.

I got fired today – my dear student said, coming to me.

I sat quietly and did not react to her dramatic start even though I saw that she was expecting at least a sign of some concern. Instead, I told her:

For a long time you have been complaining that this job is holding you back, that it does not inspire you, that it limits your travels and that you cannot develop an academic career that is your primary or new interest that has occupied you for a long time.

That’s right, but three-quarters of my monthly income comes from that job.

Probably even more of your energy goes there.

She thought about this comment of mine, and then said:

As I drove toward you, I remembered my start at that job. It was promising. It was about consulting in the areas I taught in college. It seemed like the perfect combination of theory and practice – I was proud in front of my students that I was not just a dusty book theorist (“aestheticist, very ugly, in a faceless room talking about beauty”). However, there was not enough work, projects were very rare, not interesting enough, uninspiring, there was no opportunity for learning and practical implementation. It was obvious that our market was not looking for such sophisticated and expensive services. In addition, the crisis has financially destroyed almost all potential clients. Years went by, the disappointment deepened, but the pay came regularly. I ignored the hunch that the ship had turned in the wrong direction irreversibly, because I was living comfortably and still could do what I really liked to do – teaching in college. However, over the past two years, new opportunities have emerged in my academic work that have required greater engagement and frequent, longer travel abroad. It was the realization of my professional dream. However, they were not as enthusiastic in the office as I was. I was discreetly informed that I was expected to be available, in case a new client emerged from somewhere. This restriction initially irritated me, however, over time it grew into restlessness and resentment that rooted in my soul. As it usually goes, academic opportunities abroad were multiplying, and since there were no projects for me here, I felt that I was not earning a salary, which made it increasingly difficult for me to apply for leave. Did I do anything when I saw the ship sink? Not. Why? Honestly, just because of that salary.

I realized her problem and then told her:

Imagine a swan being given wings and flying. He also has legs, so he can walk. When a swan flies, he does not know whether he will find food or will remain hungry. One day, that swan accidentally lands in a chicken coop. Confused, he sees the hens live and walk in the mud, but his boss brings them food three times a day. Swan likes it because security is appealing. The swan knew he could always spread his wings and take off, leaving the hen. The thought soothed him. He even did it from time to time. However, there was mud at the bottom of the hen house and, as time went on, it glued to his feet, making it more difficult for him to detach himself from the ground and take flight. The longer the swan was in the hen, the less often he would leave it. If the swan were to be in a chicken coop, it wouldn’t even have wings.

And what if the swan leaves the chicken coop and doesn’t find food? – she asked, understanding the parallel.

If the swan’s energy was such that he couldn’t find food, he would have his wings fluttered, he would carry eggs and be slaughtered one day. Since he was given wings, he was also given the opportunity to fly and find food. But if the swan chooses to live as a hen, he will be a hen, his life will be hen – he will eat, he will carry eggs, he will eat, he will carry eggs, creativity is zero, and in the mud, he will get deeper and deeper. One day he will even be mistakenly slaughtered, because after a while even the master of the hen will no longer distinguish him from the hen. If your wings are given – fly, fear not for food.

But… – she tried to defend herself, but I interrupted her.

If you look back and stare at the hen house, you’ll hit the first bar and find umpteen reasons why you didn’t even have to leave the hen house. Once you spread your wings – do not look back. Forget the chicken coop and fly. When you find the first oasis you will be amazed at the abundance and you will realize how uniform that corn in the hen was. The secret is that the longer you fly, the stronger your wings be, your eyesight sharper, you’ll find nicer oases and discover more wonderful foods, and give the world a much nicer blessing with your life.

Fear is the only thing that can block you. You will only be hungry if the frequency of your fear of failure is stronger than the frequency of your desire to succeed.

Fly and you will start enjoying that clean air very soon. The hen house down there is too close to the pigs and smells bad.