The other morning I had to do some work on the gate that leads into our farm. As I finished and looked up, I saw a hawk flying very close to the ground and then swooping upwards, only to rapidly descend again. The hawk kept diving down toward something in the hayfield. What on earth was this strange behavior all about? The hawk was clearly agitated over something. The action was just over the crest of the hill, so I couldn’t see what it was.
I walked up to get a better view. I should have guessed it! One of our dogs had a dead rabbit in her mouth and was zigzagging around the field with the hawk in hot pursuit. It seems the hawk had caught the rabbit for dinner, only to be surprised by the dog, which, seeing opportunity beckon, snatched the rabbit away. I watched in amazement as the competition raged.
The dog, being much larger and stronger than the hawk, seemingly should have been able to retain the prize. Yet the unrelenting hawk, unafraid of the dog, kept diving down at her. The hawk dove and dropped from one angle after another, cutting off the escape routes in the large open field. Soon the dog tired of the game and succumbed to the perseverance of the hawk.
Why? The reason is quite simple and provides us with a very interesting moral. For the hawk, the meal meant survival. For the dog, it didn’t! The dog had “no skin in the game.” (“Skin in the game” is a term coined by renowned investor Warren Buffett, referring to a situation where high-ranking insiders use their own money to buy stock in the company they are running.) The hawk certainly had skin in the game—in this case, rabbit skin!
The hawk had much to lose, especially if there were young in the nest; the penalty for failure would be severe. But the dog was running with the rabbit for the sheer enjoyment of the game. For the dog, it was just pleasure, until the hawk made life more uncomfortable. The hawk epitomizes the words of Marie Curie:
“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”
It seemed the hawk applied the old adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!” and won the prize.
Now, don’t think the dog is a wimp just because she gave up the rabbit. When we found her some years ago, this poor stray puppy had been discarded like a piece of trash, thrown in a roadside ditch without food or water by some callous soul. The day we found her, the temperatures were over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. We didn’t know if she would live or die. She made it, only to be later attacked by another dog and then almost die from a punctured lung. But, today, you’d never know any of this. You’d never know how much perseverance flows in her body.
So why did she give up the rabbit? She’s wise enough to know the things worth fighting for and the things to leave alone. She lives in full confidence that she will always be loved and cared for and has nothing to prove. It leaves us with an interesting question: which are we more like today, the dog or the hawk?
Reflections from Turtle Lake,
p.s. I’d like to invite you to see our newest website — LivingDiary.Life. It reflects our simplistic lifestyle and it’s where Katrina and I will be sharing more recipes and tips for simple living. Enjoy!