Several years ago, I was driving home from visiting a client in a rural area and I noticed a cow running through a field, playing with her calves. It was a completely unexpected sight. Seriously, how often do you see fully grown cows running in a field?
I did a little online research on the subject and learned that while cows can run, they usually don’t run unless they are stressed (being chased, etc.). Yet what I saw was definitely not a stressed cow. It was most definitely a happy cow (and yes, this happy cow was a California cow). Here’s a video of cows running for pleasure (well, at least that’s what the folks filming it in the truck say it is – pleasure), so I know it’s not unheard of for cows to run for fun, but I can definitely say that it was an unexpected sight for me. It was such an unexpected sight that I pulled over to watch for a while.
Of course, watching that happy running cow got me thinking. Clearly that cow didn’t know that she wasn’t supposed to run and that we all just expect her to hang around and graze until it’s time to go back to the barn. But she ran anyway, not because she had to, but because she wanted to. And I’m pretty sure she didn’t care that I stopped to watch or what I was thinking about her running.
When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone and did something unexpected just because you wanted to? I think we tend to get so caught up in what we are expected to do and how people will react if we do something unexpected that we miss out on many of life’s great experiences. Just as some of the most beautiful areas of the forest are off the beaten path, much of life’s beauty is found in the unexpected, and we can only see it if we step out of our everyday routine and thought patterns of what we are expected to do.
This reminds me of Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken:
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I–
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
So, promise yourself that sometime today you’re going to do something unexpected that brings you pleasure.
Do the unexpected.
Take the road less traveled.
Be a running cow.