When my daughter was younger and having some pretty bad days at school, IT Guy used this saying for her to deal with her sadness – “ Some days, you’re the statue and some days you’re the pigeon. Today is a statue day, but tomorrow, you could be the pigeon”. For those that have difficulty working out why being a flying-rat is better than a work of art, it’s all about position and who’s wearing whose droppings. This little anecdote has worn the time in our house and given us all permission to have a bad day or days, in the knowledge that things change and others understand.
So this week, I was a statue and it was a tough week. Simple things seemed to go wrong, couriers didn’t arrive, children were ill, dogs got out of the broken fence that was (is) beyond repair, my hours spent organising storage boxes was made pointless when everything had to be rearranged. These were all very minor things (including the sickness, which was over in 24 hours) and certainly nothing in comparison to being tortured by the Guatemalan Secret Police (a yardstick of dire events as measured by IT Guy). But my statue days made me think about my favourite fairy story written by Oscar Wilde and retold by my father to me when I was a child called “The Happy Prince”. If you haven’t read it, (or “The Selfish Giant”) I won’t be a big spoiler. I think it’s one of the most beautiful stories I’ve ever read. The quick summary is that it’s the story of a statue of a selfish man and a swallow. One of things I bring away from it (without blowing the ending or the main theme) is that even when you’re a statue, it’s good to have people that care.
The idea of pigeons and statues is attributed to Scott Adam of Dilbert fame and made famous by David Brent of The Office.
And an old joke…
In a city park stood two statues, one female and the other male. These two statues faced each other for many years. Early one morning, an angel appeared before the statues and said, “Since the two of you have been exemplary statues and have brought enjoyment to many people, I am giving you your greatest wish. I hereby give you the gift of life. You have 30 minutes to do whatever you desire.”
And with that command, the statues came to life, smiled at each other, ran toward some nearby woods and dove behind a couple of bushes. The angel smiled to himself as he listened to the two statues giggling, bushes rustling and twigs snapping. After 15 minutes, the two statues emerged from the bushes, satisfied and smiling. Puzzled, the angel looked at his watch and asked the statues, “You still have 15 minutes. Would you like to continue?”
The male statue looked at the female and asked, “Do you want to do it again?” Smiling, the female statue said, “Sure. But this time you hold the pigeon down and I’ll crap on its head.”