What do free-range pigs and living a vibrant, inwardly-alive life have in common? A lot, it turns out.
Over on her homeschooling blog, Penelope Trunk made a comparison between the free-range pigs her husband is raising and homeschooled kids.
She starts off with a look at the “norm” – raising pigs in confinement
“Most farmers think the pigs need to be confined so they are manageable to the farmer. There are so many pigs and only one farmer, so most of farming is about how to get the pigs grown, and to market, without letting them overrun the farm.
The pigs look mean and stupid in confinement. And depressed. When I first visited my husband’s farm, the pigs were the only part I hated. I didn’t know much about farming, but I knew it looked bad.”
Watching her husband’s experiment with raising free-range pigs, Penelope saw similarities between the the inquisitive pigs and her experience homeschooling her kids:
“Pigs are curious about everything. They have the IQ of a three-year-old child, and they are just so fun to see exploring and learning on their own. When they want milk, they go back to their moms, who generally stay by the nest they made for the piglets.
I am blown away by how similar this is to my experience with homeschooling. The pleasure I get from leaving my boys to explore on their own is that I get to see who they really are…
I see what they choose to play with, what they are curious about, and what they ignore. I see them come back to me when they need something and then run back over to whatever interests them after they’ve touched base.”
When I read that, it occurred to me that you could take the analogy of the confined pig vs. the free-range pig even further. The confined pig is how many (most?) people live their lives – trapped in the confines of the life they’re expected to live, rather than one that reflects who they really are and makes them come alive.
I think there is that young, inquisitive child in each of us who thrives in a way that is unique and individual. When we try to operate in confinement (i.e., trying to be who we’re not), part or all of that shuts down.
Part of why this struck me as such a powerful analogy is the image of that miserable, trapped pig. I’ve seen what Penelope is talking about. “The pigs look mean and stupid in confinement. And depressed.” And it’s heartbreaking.
In my Passion Catalyst work, I have seen over and over the effects that a mental, societally conditioned version of that confinement has on people. The image of the miserable pig captures that effect strikingly. It’s why I do the work I do – to help people escape that and find a career and a life that lets them thrive.
When people are confined to an ill-fitting role in their life, they’re inherently off-balance. They’re not tapping into their natural gifts. They’re afraid to take risks. They’re artificially limited in what’s possible.
On the positive side, I have seen the impact as people start to step more fully into a free-range version of themselves. They reconnect with that vibrant, inquisitive, inwardly alive child (who never really went away – she or he just got a little lost).
And what about the “coming back to mother” part of the analogy? I think there’s a solid, grounded, deeply aware sense of self that plays that role. If we’re grounded and confident in who we are, we can go off exploring and take risks. When we over-extend our range and need some reassuring, we can come back to our grounded selves, take a deep breath, maybe meditate a bit, and say, “Oh yeah. I’m OK.”
What would a free-range life look like for you? What step could you take, today, to move away from the confines of a life that doesn’t fit and towards that vibrant, free-range life?
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Brought to you by Curt Rosengren, Passion Catalyst TM
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