A Matter of Grit
Roosters are fiery and often fierce. They bluster with wings and charge forward to make a point, no one should dare knock them over. But, when they fall, they fall hard, often inexplicably and permanently. I stepped out of the door yesterday afternoon and noticed our own rooster in a position I can only describe as "tossed" behind a brush pile. My dad kicked at him. He didn't move. My mind sunk back into the memory of the two roosters who fought the year before and the corpse my dog led me to shortly after. One had finally tucked into its talons to my dad's hardened response of, "They just give up and that's it."
"Maybe he ate too much cat food and not enough chicken feed. You know, like pigs who get too much protein go a little crazy." My dad clipped and snipped through the rock garden down the driveway.
"So," and I laugh to myself, "Not enough grit."
This is what I would have assumed, in a less metaphorical way. I have been intrigued by "grit" in the past year, its definition and how that definition translates into people's actions. Caroline Adams Miller defines authentic grit as “. . .not enough to be resilient, persistent, and passionate. I believe that gritty behavior is a positive force only when it awes and inspires others to want to become better people and imagine greater possibilities for themselves. People who display it make us wonder, ‘What if I went after hard things, too? What if I devoted energy and time to cultivating my passions? What if?’
In his cracked, dirty hands my dad grabbed the wide, round body from behind and turned his head away from the dust scuffed about. He unceremoniously tossed the rooster into the hen house where he lay sideways on rank smelling straw. I did not see how this was an improvement on the grass as a motivator to recover. But I guess maybe it was one less thing to worry about, something I read that is important when it comes to grit. You have a limit to the number of things in your day, you have the strength to be gritty about. I think this explains why sometimes we don’t want to dress well, plan a meal or why I really was ready to let the cluttered bottles of shampoo go since my in laws visited.
Today, the rooster was lively, but still hadn't gotten up.
"Maybe he got hit by something," my dad offered.
This of course would mean that it was not a lack of grit at all, but forces beyond the animal's control that were keeping him down.
"Will he get up?" The answer to that would be found somewhere in how much we could control his environment so that his flap and swagger only had one thing to attempt to be gritty about.
“I gave him water. So, I’ll just wait until-”
My emergent writer status and professional transition continue to intersect in prickly ways, not exactly a wine and cheese kind of pairing that you look forward to on a Friday night. Barely cat food even. After some difficult manuscript revisions and never were interviews in recent weeks, I was simply going to post a particularly inspirational definition of grit. Then the rooster fell down, but tried to get up.
My dad is waiting for me too, until-
I know what happens if I don't get up. I can still see the upturned talon in the winter crusted field last year. The rooster doesn't.
Adams Miller, Caroline. (2017). Getting Grit: the evidence-based approach to cultivating, passion, perseverance, and purpose. Sounds True: Boulder.