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The Playful Path of Emotions: Lessons from My First Chicken, Durga, on Love, Loss, and Life

Last night, my beloved chicken Durga found peace after a week of illness. She entered our lives at just 5 days old, and from the start, our bond was special. Named after the powerful Indian Goddess who rides a lion, Durga brought love, trust, and friendship into our home.

It’s a profound and unusual experience to connect deeply with a bird. Our relationship went beyond bonding—it was filled with moments of affection and understanding. Durga loved being petted and hugged and always greeted me with enthusiasm, sometimes jumping onto my shoulder during meals.

Despite her playful nature, she had a gentle spirit and got along well with the other chickens. Even our cautious cats were wary of her beak! I’d tickle her under her beak, and she loved it. Her eggs were delicious, although she stopped laying several months ago.

Reflecting on animal deaths raises important questions about life’s mysteries. While my mother tended to avoid having pets due to the pain of loss, I believe each animal brings a unique gift. Durga helped open my heart in unexpected ways.

Experiencing Durga’s passing has deepened my appreciation for life and highlighted the disconnect between Western society and the natural cycle of life and death. This disconnection can lead us to undervalue life and overlook our mortality, keeping us trapped in the grind.

That’s still not enough though for us to appreciate our lives, as the famous sentence in the Mahabharata: what is the greatest miracle? It’s that man, even though surrounded by death, believes himself to be immortal. Brings me back to Oliver Burkeman in his book: 4000 weeks.

To use our time well, being where we are right now and not wishing we were elsewhere, if the wish is that strong though perhaps you should be elsewhere!

When I went to bed last night, I prayed that she should suffer no longer. I woke at about 2 am and felt a strange atmosphere about the house. I didn’t get up; instead, I sat on my bed and entered a deep meditation for some time.

This morning, I found Durga peacefully resting. I surrounded her with flowers, lit incense, and cleaned her with care. Reflecting on her life, I’m reminded of the importance of embracing our emotions fully. Animals, like Durga, possess feelings and intelligence, offering profound lessons in connection and empathy.

Durga’s playful spirit lives on in my heart, inspiring me to cherish every moment and embrace life’s joys with open arms. Here’s to you, Durga, for reminding me of the simple joys and lessons that animals bring into our lives. May we all approach each day with a little more love and a lot more laughter, just as you did with your multitude of clucking sounds.

 

Living the Playful Path

What do we do on a playful path? We don’t laugh or joke to avoid our feelings; instead, we embrace them fully. I’m writing to celebrate Durga’s life and share these reflections in the hope that they resonate with your own experiences. Let us try to see the bigger picture and find meaning in life’s challenges.

There is strength and courage in allowing ourselves to feel deeply—the kind of courage that eludes us when we conceal our emotions. If anyone suggests that animals lack feelings and intelligence, I would argue otherwise. Just as we all carry our own experiences of trauma to varying degrees, we often neglect our feelings, trapped in a state of mental fear that inhibits true emotional connection.

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