My in-laws inherited many of the ceramic chickens that belonged to my father-in-law's mother and my mother-in-law has added to the collection. I know those chickens' stories.
I know the story of Henny Penny and her ceaseless warnings that the sky is falling. I even still have my copy of a 1960-something Scholastic Books printing around here somewhere.
But there's another chicken whose story I don't know and would love to find out. I want to know the story behind a giant chicken standing at the edge of a pond as if he's just walked out of it, but I haven't the courage to knock on strangers' doors to ask them to tell me his story. I'm not even sure exactly which house owns the property where the giant chicken sits.
I know where to find out what plot of land the chicken sits on in the county's online resources but I haven't looked it up yet. Figuring out whose land it's on doesn't mean I'll suddenly have the courage to knock on their door.
As I was wondering what the Giant Chicken's story is, my imagination kept simmering until an idea for a children's story was born. I was set to retire for the evening but had to sit down with my journal and scribble 12 pages of notes on the new idea. I'll need an illustrator, but that thought threatens to halt my progress if I focus on it. Worrying about the illustrator for a book I haven't finished yet puts the proverbial cart before the horse. One thing at a time, I tell myself. BREATHE. I don't need to know, today, exactly how the process will go. I just have to take one stage at a time, writing the text and laying out the storyboard. No more.
I think sometimes that we're better off not knowing everything all at once. What if, knowing up front that a project will fail, we never take the risk of trying to create it? We'd lose all the learning that would come from the trying.
And what would happen if we knew all of the facts and futures to be known -- even if only in our own little corners of the world? There would be no point in creative thinking, in imagination, in knowing one fact here and another there and letting our neurons fire until we figure out the connections between the two. Living would be a boring exercise without imagination, surprise, wonder.
I've gotten a lot braver since I started writing for the paper and having to call strangers on the phone but I haven't achieved the level of confidence needed to show up on a stranger's doorstep. Maybe someday.
Until then, I'll have to be content with my photo and look forward to seeing what other ideas my imagination can create from it.