A long time ago in a remote valley, there lived a farmer. One day he got tired of the daily routine of running the farm and decided to climb the cliffs that brooded above the valley to see what lay beyond.
He climbed all day until he reached a ledge just below the top of the cliff; there, to his amazement was a nest, full of eggs.
Immediately he knew they were eagle’s eggs and, even though he knew it was profoundly un-ecological and almost certainly illegal, he carefully took one and stowed it in his pack; then seeing the sun was low in the sky, he realized it was too late in the day to make the top and slowly began to make his way down the cliff to his farm.
When he got home he put the egg in with the few chickens he kept in the yard. The mother hen was the proudest chicken you ever saw, sitting atop this magnificent egg; and the cockerel couldn’t have been prouder.
Sure enough, some weeks later, from the egg emerged a fine, healthy egret. And as is in the gentle nature of chickens, they didn’t balk at the stranger in their midst and raised the majestic bird as one of their own.
So it was that the eagle grew up with its brother and sister chicks. It learned to do all the things chickens do: it clucked and cackled, scratching in the dirt for grits and worms, flapping its wings furiously,flying just a few feet in the air before crashing down to earth in a pile of dust and feathers.
It believed resolutely and absolutely it was a chicken.
One day, late in its life, the eagle-who-thought-he-was-a-chicken happened to look up at the sky. High overhead, soaring majestically and effortlessly on the thermals with scarcely a single beat of its powerful golden wings, was an eagle!
“What’s that?!”, cried the old eagle in awe. “It’s magnificent! So much power and grace! It’s beautiful!”
“That’s an eagle”, replied a nearby chicken, “That’s the King of the Birds. It’s a bird of the air… not for the likes of us. We’re only chickens, we’re birds of the earth”.
With that, they all cast their eyes downwards once more and continued digging in the dirt.
And so it was that the eagle lived and died a chicken… because that’s all it believed itself to be.