Well, I hope you have not thought I would give you an instruction on how to look for needles really. I hope not.
What I wanted to share with you is my life long search for that needle and my latest revelation of how one can make this search successful.
But I will start with a story, as I often do.
When I was growing up a very cool thing for all the parents to do was to take their kids for vacations in the sun. And we all fled to the Crimea, almost all of us, provided our parents could afford it. And, as the tradition dictated at that time, we all spent whole days on the beach. I can only sympathise with my mother who managed to entertain us, kids, under the frying sun for hours and hours. And one of the entertainment games was to find a Chicken God pebble – a pebble with a see-through whole. (And no, I have no idea why it was called Chicken God, but everyone around us on the beach was adamant once you find one, it is going to bring you mega luck, and we all believed there is just one, so we all competed to find that very one).
I would argue there are more pebbles on the beach than there are straws in a hay stack, so I hope you get the comparison.
I never was able to find a Chicken God in those childhood years, no one around me on the beach did, we were sure this was a ploy by our mothers to keep up busy. The memories of childhood search for luck and the unfulfilled competitive urge stayed with me for all these years.
So last year I take my kids to the beach (not as killingly hot as Crimea though, as it is in England) and tell them about the Chicken God, more out of the family tale tradition rather than to set up a competition. And off we go, some chasing our luck, some believing that if there is a tale, there must be some ground to it. My daughter telling me that this is harder than locating a needle in a hay stack. After half an hour of enjoying the beach and casually looking through the pebbles I find one with a see-through whole.
Some time later we find one or two pebbles each and my daughter feels excited – it is her first one on the first hunt; I feel exalted – it is my first one in 40 year!
A month ago we go down to the seaside, fly a kite, eat our picnic, and of course, routinely look for Chicken God pebbles while we sit on our blanket. We each find two or three not even walking around the beach. We can’t believe it, we think this is a coincidence. We move the blanket ten meters to the side and repeat our search – sure enough, we find two to three more each. I start coming up with all sorts of conspiracy theories how Chicken Gods are so popular in the Crimea and no one knows about them here, so the Crimean beaches have been already harvested. How else can you explain this? How else can you explain my daughter and I having a collection of more than 20 Chicken Gods from different English beaches.
A couple of days ago a school friend of mine and I go down to the Jurassic Coast in Dorset. I ask him whether his mother told him the story of the Chicken God. He says he had never heard of it, plus, he says, it is a pointless search game as it is as impossible to find such a pebble as it is impossible to find a needle …..
As we are discussing the high level of improbability and walk along the pebbled beach I bend down, and pick up a Chicken God. My friend is stunned. He is also very competitive, so he starts going through the pebbles methodically, but cannot find any. I am not competing; I have more than enough in my collection. I just continue walking and then bend down and find another one. He still has none.
We drive to see another beach. On the way in the car we talk and try to understand why Chicken Gods seem to be hiding from some and revealing themselves to the others. I share my story of how my daughter picks them up everywhere she goes where there is a pebbled beach. It is not longer about competition; it is about enjoying her time on the pebbled beaches in a way.
We arrive at the next beach with my friend, I walk onto the pebbles, and yes, I pick up another Chicken God. And then, ten minutes later, while walking along the beach, my friend picks up his first one, and then ten minutes later, picks up another one. He turns around and says “ There are enough Chicken Gods for all of us, we just don’t believe they are there, that’s why we can’t find them”.
How often do we think that there are no great opportunities around us, that the ocean has been over fished, or the field over cropped, so we do not bother looking, or we routinely look knowing there is nothing left for us. And often we do not bother looking, we do not see those opportunities, because they are masking, they all look the same, just like myriads of pebbles on the endless beach.
My intention for the coming week is to continue believing that there are enough Chicken Gods for all of us, we just need to keep looking.
What about you? Do you want to start with a simple walk on the beach? Do you believe there will be Chicken Gods on the beach for you?
PS Definitely do not go to the Durdle Door in Dorset, I have just been there and have taken them all home to take pictures for this blog J.
PSS Sorry, I would not recommend picking Crimea as your first beach of choice for the summer due to the political and economic turmoil it has recently found itself in. Makes me sad to write this – all those beaches with all those Chicken Gods are not going to be as full and as vibrant as they used to be.