The gift of pigeon poo

I wrote the following piece of motivational wisdom last year to stave off a very foul mood. It's about perservering, having faith that your creativity will save the day, and not insisting that set-backs happen because the world hates you. The world doesn't hate you; those lemons are FULL of lemonade. 

ZeroOne / / CC BY-SA

When your freelancing work is in its early stages, bad days get pretty icky. Infant careers, like baby humans, need to be lovingly burped and played with, but when you find a stream of molten shite where your new skirt once was, it is difficult not to cry over spilt breast milk.

Take last Sunday lunchtime, for instance:

No evening of stormy copper-wire kite flying could have charred my spirit more than the teaspoon-sized gob of pigeon poo that splattered my keyboard as I desperately fumbled for an idea. After a week of more orthodox rejections, it seemed natural to interpret a literal shit storm from on high as a sign that the universe was not in agreement with present career goals.  As far as I was concerned, that mingy wad of disease was mockingly plopped by no less than a messenger of God: and not even a dove. My herald was a manky pigeon who offered no olive branch, just a poison turd. 

With hands and heart heavy with guano, I wiped off the keys, cried about it, then turned to my motivational Pinterest board for perspective:

“the Chinese character for raining bird muck ALSO represents opportunity?”

“That is encouraging, Pinterest, but what should I do?” and the Pintriverse riddled back: 

“If you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.”

Excellent insight, I thought, but still a shade murky on the details.  So, in a perhaps slightly literal application, I spent the afternoon wiki-ing feral rock pigeons.  This is what I learned:

The oldest domesticated bird, you would think we’d be calling pigeons man’s best friend by now: they have been abundantly decorated for wartime service and crapped on the hand that feeds them since 3000 BC.   The cuneiform tablet on the Yale Library’s 2011 Xmas card shows some tasty recipes for the little slimebuckets, but what struck me most was Wiki’s story of the pigeon’s fall from paradise and half-arsed return to savagery.

Once upon a time, blissful rock doves rejoiced in the salty sea air.  Nesting on cliff-tops, they wet their faces in the bracing spray of boundless ocean, wheeling and soaring over the waves on brisk morning jaunts before breakfast. Then, some human with a hankering for squab pie or an early instant messaging service, rudely forced the placid creatures from their windswept homes and into gaudy ankle-braceleted bondage.  The tactless stinker that sullied my laptop is the vagabond outlaw of thousands of years of captive pigeonhood. It clings to the grotty ledges of my dingy third floor flat as it’s ancestors once bestrode the majestic sea-cliffs of their truly wild life. 

Once laying its waste in a literal ocean, the pigeon now identifies my keyboard as a similar ocean of possibility! 

Yeah, I know; I’m working on it, but I do feel better already.  I have learned to put more faith in my abilities, that sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, but, if you look hard enough, God is in the pigeon poo.