As a preschooler, my daughter had a picture book by Mo Willems called Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus. It’s a sweet, funny and clever book that captures the endearing side of a preschoolers temper tantrums. The takeaway as an adult though is equally funny as it is profound. Don’t get fixated on what others want from you and allow that to drive your decision-making. More importantly, don’t fixate on what your ego attempts to validate as rational choices based on the immediate irrational demands of others that only serve to validate their behaviors and choices.
Pigeons occupy cities in great numbers. They are everywhere, pecking about and scavenging for food. Their actions are selfish. Their actions are for their own survival. They don’t care about us. Feeding a pigeon may put a smile on your face, but rest assured, that it’s a non-reciprocal relationship. To keep with metaphors of the winged, comedian Mitch Hedberg has a brilliant joke, “I find that ducks’ opinions of me are very much influenced over whether or not I have bread.” There’s sound philosophy in that statement.
Our paths are all unique. When searching for the right path, the path paved by reasoned choice and a non-egoic existence, our decisions simply won’t make sense to a vast majority of others. The world is filled with pigeons and ducks. Don’t let the pigeons drive the bus, and don’t seek to be loved by ducks when you are not carrying bread. Neither will serve to get you where you want to go, nor feed you along the way.