There’s a story I remembered one evening as I strolled down the streets of Aviemore Village in Scotland, after meeting a wonderfully inspiring woman, Debra Kopp. Debra had chosen to follow her dreams, traveling across lands, investing in small family run businesses, reviving them, contributing to the communities they operated in, and then moving onto her next destination. in this way, she touched the lives of many, helped hundreds in their struggle to run small businesses, gave back to communities, and successfully achieved her dream of seeing the world.
Once upon a time atop a mountain rested an eagle’s nest with a collection of eggs in it. One day an earthquake rocked the mountain, causing one of the eggs to roll down to a chicken farm in the valley below. Believing the egg to be one of theirs, an old hen volunteered to nurture the large egg and take care of whatever hatched from it. After a period, a beautiful eagle emerged from the egg. Sadly, however, the well-meaning hen raised the eagle as a chicken, with his beak ever pointed downward. The eagle loved his home and family, but his spirit cried out for more. One day, the eagle looked to the skies above and noticed a group of mighty eagles soaring in the skies. “Oh,” the eagle cried, “I wish I could soar like those birds.” The chickens roared with laughter, “You cannot soar with those birds. You are a chicken and chickens do not soar.” The eagle continued staring at his real family up above, dreaming that he could be with them. His heart ached for more. Each time the eagle would let his dreams be known, he was told they could never be fulfilled. That is what the eagle learned to believe. The eagle, after a time, stopped dreaming, and continued to live his life like a chicken. Finally, after a long life as a chicken, the eagle passed away.
As a child, I recollect my parents telling me to follow my dreams and aspire for what I believed I wanted to do and achieve. Dream big, they said, but remain grounded in reality. I think I was lucky in some ways, to have been presented the opportunity to pursue any interest I had. As the years went by and my interests ranged from art and archaeology, literature and law, to psychology and religion, I saw a clear path emerging—one I could follow, one that was known, treaded on successfully before, and in some ways, a path whose outcome was fairly predictable. Unlike Don Quixote, whose imagination transported him to places unseen by others, I stuck to the conformist route, set out achievable targets and milestones, and truly believed that I was realizing my dreams. One day a few years later, I reread the story about the eagle and the chickens and I asked myself—which one was I?