Chasing Pigeons, Motivation and Barking

For the last 2 years I’ve been living in a block house downtown Bucharest. It’s a small and cosy place and it’s very close to the center (that’s why we picked it in the first place).

It certainly has it quirks, though.

For instance, neighbors. They’re either (very) old women, or (very) young people (working, probably, in various corporations). At times, you can almost feel the eyes of the old ladies gazing at you from behind closed doors. In the beginning it felt a little weird but in a few months, we got used to it. Because of the neighbors, most of the time the place is really quiet.

Except when the dogs are barking.

Yes. The dogs.

The building is U-shaped and inside the U there is this backyard. There are a few parking places near the building’s walls and, right in the middle, there is a small cottage where the parking guardians are staying. A small fence is surrounding the cottage and around the cottage there are a few trees that are giving a lot of shade during summer. It’s a nice, quiet backyard. Most of the time.

Around the cottage, in time, a pack of 4 dogs gathered. Or, to be more precise, they were adopted. Guardians are feeding them and use them during the night as, of course, sentinels. All 4 of them were previously stray dogs, with a history of abuse or hurt.

The most clever dog of all 4 is a female called Samantha. She has only 3 legs (that’s part of her pas abuse stories) but she’s undoubtedly the leader of the pack. She only needs to see you, (or smell you) once or twice, then she remembers you. I assume she saw and still remembers hundreds of people since she’s staying there. When the going gets rough, she’s the last one to bark, especially because she is good with people and she can instantly tell the difference between a friend, and a potential foe. Also, the other dogs are following her, meaning they’re kinda supportive when Samantha goes after someone.

But the other dogs are not so smart. They can get started pretty easily when there is movement around. Sometimes, it’s Samantha who is calming them down, but sometimes they can bark for a few dozens of minutes, without any apparent reason.

The Stage

The other day a beggar came around. They do cross the yard every once in a while. Because she instantly smelled the difference, Samantha started to bark aggressively. Other two dogs followed through, and, all of a sudden, three dogs were barking behind the small fence, forcing the guy to speed up his pace.

Right in the middle of the yard, there was this fourth dog, somehow separated from the entire scene. His name is Zombie. Maybe because he’s black. Or maybe because he’s not that smart.

As he heard the barking of his friends, he suddenly stood up. Looking straight up, without even bother to check the cause of his friends barking, he started to howl. Just like that.

As the barking of Samantha’s pack continued, Zombie got even more aggressive. He saw a pigeon sitting a few meters from him and he jumped towards it. The pigeon walked rapidly, then we gently started to fly when Zombie got closer. After a few meters, he landed again.

Zombie, without stopping his barking, followed through. The pigeon walked again, gently flew and landed again. After a few of these sessions, Zombie started to circle around, in the backyard, chasing the pigeon.

The beggar was gone for quite a few minutes now and the other 3 dogs ceased barking. But not Zombie. Nope. He was still circling around the backyard, chasing that pigeon around.

Something in this story made me stare out the window for at least 15 minutes. I couldn’t unglue myself from the glass, watching how Zombie was barking with no reason, constantly chasing the pigeon (who didn’t seem to give much fucks, anyways).

And then it hit me…

We’re All Chasing Pigeons. Most Of The Time.

Yes, we all do this. Because of our confusion, our ignorance, or simply because we’re lazy, we act just like Zombie. We hear something that gets us started, we look around, we follow through and we take on the first thing that we lay eyes on.

Without even knowing what’s going on.

We waste our energy, our time, maybe our experience and knowledge, chasing pigeons. Following elusive constructs which seem to continuously escape our reach.

It happens almost every time.

For instance, on New Years Eve. Because everybody is barking at the passage of a new year, we start to follow some elusive New Year resolutions, without even knowing from where the hell they came into our lives. Well, since everybody is barking around, there must be something valuable in following that pigeon, right?

Wrong. Of course.

Or when there is this new super-never-exposd-to-the-public-before self-improvement technique, we’re all following through, just because there is some barking around that thing. Maybe, for some people, the technique is good, or relevant. Just like for Samantha, barking at that beggar, was something good. But that doesn’t mean it was the same for Zombie. He had nothing to do with it. And yet, he started chasing pigeons, just because he thought it would be good to do this.

We’re seldom as aware as we should be. Most of the time we’re just lazily sitting on top of our stuff, picking up half-thought pieces of information and we rush acting upon them. We’re rushing towards those “pigeons”, just like Zombie was rushing towards that elusive, flying piece of feather and meat.

So, before taking any action, take some time. Look around. See exactly what you’re chasing.

Otherwise you will perfectly fit in this quote from the late Jim Rohn:

“Motivation alone is not enough. If you have an idiot, and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot”.


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