cover of Reb Mordecai's Thoughts

Reb Mordecai's Thoughts

Cows and Chickens


Reb Mordecai writes about expectations


I have often said—and I might add with a slight blush of humility—been quoted as saying, "If you don't expect your chickens to give milk and your cow to lay eggs you will be a much happier person."

When I say that, people laugh and think I am joking. Well, it is true that I am, in spite of my explorations into the dark corridors of spirituality and philosophy, a person who is often happy to make people laugh. When people laugh, the words behind the humor slide down the throat much easier.

However, let us look at those cows and chickens. What is one of the greatest destroyers of happiness and peace of mind? In my long experience, I would say it is disappointed expectations. We look to our family, our friends, our spouses, even to strangers, and we expect a particular behavior. We want that stranger to step out of the way when we are trying to pass. We want that family member to remember our birthday in fine fashion. We want and want and we are hurt when we don't get what we want.

Pretend for a moment that the person in question was actually a cow or a chicken. See, I've made you laugh already. But would you really like milk from a hen? No, you are delighted to get eggs from that simple creature. You can stand and frown at a cow from now until the next century and that beast will never lay an egg.

So why do we expect a disorganized person to show neatness and tidy habits? Why do we twist our insides into a painful knot while expecting a simple person to join us in deep conversation, or a practical and timid soul to understand our creativity and to become enthusiastic about our flights of fancy and fantasy?

A wise man once said, "From each according to his abilities...." It means no milk from the poultry and no cow-produced omelets.


About Reb Mordecai

 Alter ego? Pseudonym? Reb Mordecai is a teacher who lives inside a writer who lives inside an artist. He/I (and perhaps even Thou) travel eclectic paths—thinking as we go. 

The title “Reb” does not mean rabbi. It is an honorific that is often used for teachers, scholars, and sages. In the old days in Europe, one could earn the title by being very wealthy. Have times changed?