A Story Of Success
"No one—not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses—ever makes it alone,"
In Malcolm Gladwell's best selling book "Outliers" he tells thought-provoking stories about people whose achievements in life fall outside normal experience. People like the Beatles and Bill Gates for instance whose extraordinary success and accomplishments are so far out of the ordinary that they represent something analogous to one single day that falls below freezing in the middle of a hot summer.
That is an outlier.
Something or someone that appears to deviate markedly from other members of the sample in which it occurs.
In the book he demonstrates that our understanding of success has much less to do with ones talent and ambition and much more to do with ones surroundings, their family, people whom they knew and most importantly being in the right place at the right time.
In other words those who have been able to excel in the world and really "make it big" so to speak, have done so with opportunities that were provided externally and with a whole lot of luck mixed in as well.
But imagine how different the notion of "making it big" in the world might be if we were a someone born into the body of a farmed animal.
Someone who is raised simply to be killed. The idea of success would be even more preposterous than the notion of one freezing day in the middle of an August heat wave.
So here it is then..... following this sentence.... an exercise in creativity, imagination and deep empathy.
Suppose we were a pig living our life trapped inside a few feet of steel bars on an industrial farm.
Suppose that success is, as Gladwell infers in his book, terrifyingly contingent. That in order to escape from what is the normal life of everyone else, our situations need to break just right for us and we need a huge amount of help from those around us.
But now imagine that those around us who control our fate have been told over and over via a misinformed culture that they must eat our flesh to be healthy. To use our skin as clothing and other products is a necessity as well.
Imagine that those who control our lives are convinced that our lives don't matter.
Then realize our body and the life contained within are actually their property, their path to prosperity and profit and..... we have no voice.
The notion of achievement or success within these circumstances and these predicaments looks nearly non existent or quite different than what we would imagine success to look like.
When we live as a being whose life has little joy, is filled with misery and pain the concept of success changes completely.
Success might result in that we feel the warmth of the sun on our back for the first time as we are loaded onto a truck bound for the slaughterhouse.
Success might be that our impeccable sense of smell will hopefully fail us on the day we reach the killing house so that the language of death is not comprehended in it's full extent, moments before we brutally leave this earth.
Success might mean that the human who is electrifying us before we are stabbed and bled performs their job properly because he has not yet been jaded from the vicious, repetitive work in a slaughterhouse which has the highest turnover rate of any profession.
Success in the world for people and animals owes something to parentage and patronage. No one rises up from nothing on their own. We all need someone whether it's family, friends or those others who believe in us.
Yet ironically none of the billions of animals killed this year for food will have ever been betrayed by friends..... for they had none to begin with in the first place.
If abandonment and loneliness means anything.... it is certainly defined by the way the animals raised for food will live and die in their short lives.
Yet this is not a story about loneliness and death. It's attempting to be a story about success. This is a story about someone with luck statistically far greater than blessed upon Mozart or provided any silicon valley billionaire. It's the story of Jumper a true outlier if ever there was one.
Jumper was the runt from a litter of piglets born on a gestation crate facility in the central valley of California. Her opportunity for success came about when a worker noticed and took pity on her as she was so tiny and so helpless. They contacted someone who kindly put them in touch with Animal Acres. Jumper was smuggled out and away to freedom. The downside was she would be taken from her mother who unfortunately at no fault of her own will suffer her entire life in a metal crate. Jumper's brothers were taken soon after to a slaughterhouse and her sisters to be used as breeding sows themselves.
The tallest tree in the forest is the tallest not just because it grew from the hardiest acorn; it is the tallest also because no other trees blocked its sunlight, the soil around it was deep and rich, no rabbit chewed through it's bark as a sapling, and no lumberjack cut it down.
We know that success arises out of a steady accumulation of advantages, relationships and extraordinary opportunities. Animal Acres represents that combination of necessary resources in the climb to the top for this little piglet. It was here at the sanctuary that the kindness of strangers gave Jumper the greatest of opportunities which would propel her to fame and fortune.
Denis Hennelly and Casey Suchan two independent filmmakers took notice of little Jumper and decided she would star in their poignant new film Bold Native. This lucky break opened the door to the nurturing, affection and trust that Jumper desperately needed in order to adapt to humans and achieve a successful life at Animal Acres.
So weeks before the film began producer Casey Suchan set about getting the tiny Jumper accustomed to being held. Casey spent many days with Jumper, feeding her bananas and becoming her friend. Yet it didn't take long before Jumper learned to settle into a humans arms. When it came time to film she was more than prepared as she graced the big screen with a presence that recalls Kate Winslet on her best day. Jumper also became a favorite on the set and easily stole both cast and crew's hearts.
To this day Jumper still remembers it all and every time Casey goes to visit Animal Acres the little former runt talks up a storm and runs as fast as she is able...
to visit with her dear friend and mentor.
Jumper now lives her life like the most successful person in the world might live. She has round the clock care, nearly non stop belly rubs from her staff (volunteers and visitors), and she is free to run, to roll in the mud and of course most importantly to jump.
What more could a person ask for?
Our human minds are not sufficiently capable enough to understand statistically what someone like Jumper's success really represents.
Appreciate for a moment that there are approximately 300 million humans living in the US. The stories of human success are actually quite numerous and in the hundreds of thousands to say the least. Yet now fathom that more than 10 billion farmed animals are slaughtered for food every year in the US and the stories of those animals being rescued or making it to sanctuaries are perhaps in the hundreds.
With these lopsided numbers one can easily discern that the few animals living their life at places like Animal Acres are what we may describe without exaggeration as truly lucky beyond measure.
It may not seem to us at first glance that most all successful humans are the beneficiaries of some kind of unusual opportunity and luck. They are however much more the products of good fortune and additional help from others than we care to acknowledge. When this argument is investigated, studied, it is revealed to be the truth and the rule, not the exception.
Statistically however the farmed animals at rescue facilities and sanctuaries are even more the outliers in the true scientific definition of the word then are the few human billionaires, movie stars and big time athletes.
Plus the non humans liberated from farmed exploitation give us a concept of success we usually overlook. There is a real lesson to be grasped from all of the animals saved from slaughter houses and we rarely apply those lessons to our own lives.
In our human world of money, power, greed and consumption success means something very different from what in reality it might actually be comprised of.
The link we find between altruism and happiness shows us a path to success we unfortunately ignore. Living with compassion towards others and the connection it has to our own well being may lead us closer to understanding success than studying someone playing in a world famous band or running a fortune 500.
There is a form of well being that transcends our daily notions of what real success might resemble.
We see it all the time and have many examples of those persons, humans and non humans who are not just happy about their lives but in their lives.
We all feel it and have intuitions which run deep within who we are and signal to us what success actually seems to be.
While our concept of success often seems bound up with the belief in acquiring things.... it really arrives when we are transformed through kindness from ourselves to others and by kindness from others back to us. Transformed by experiences that bring us closer to love than to hate. Transformed by the experience of living in the presence of our similarities rather than our differences.
Yet.... the challenge for all of us is to begin recognizing these possibilities and living them.... through direct action.
Living vegan is an incredible step toward that transformation and a very successful way to bring real life benefits to those who may not have a voice the world can hear... yet have a life they cherish in the same way anyone who strives to make it big in the world treasures their own life.
In the same way Animal Acres provides sanctuary for Jumper and how Casey and Denis provided the necessary trust she needed to blossom into the big happy round love boat she has become we can all contribute to the future success stories of animals we will never even know by living vegan.
Be a success. Become vegan.
Rescue/adopt an animal!
Casey Suchan and Denis Hennelly can't stop talking about Jumper.
"We are very lucky to know this beautiful, funny, precocious soul. Making a film about animals' rights isn't the same as getting to know them as individuals and earning their friendship... Jumper brought spirit and meaning to an idea, and for this we are eternally grateful. She has blessed our life and our film and is a potent reminder of the millions of individual spirits like hers that are imprisoned each year in our country's factory farms. The film is for all of those who have not been saved."
About the song.
The Pig Who Sang to The Moon is a beautiful and powerful book by Jeffrey Masson about the emotional world of farm animals. In the book he describes how pigs living on animal sanctuaries will make a moaning, almost sad yet musical sound when they mourn for the loss of one of their friends. He explains how pigs seem to enjoy the moonlight. He interviews people who share their lives with these highly emotional intelligent animals and they all tell stories of how pigs will make mournful sounds at night much like singing. All this while gazing up at the moonlight.
This song below is dedicated to Jumper's family.
Her brothers, sisters, father and mother.....who never made it out of that prison and were never given the chance to be a success.
This song is also dedicated to all pigs living as property on farms and who have not yet been saved.....Maybe even as a metaphor.... the ones who've already died are the Angels On The Moon.
Click Here to listen to ANGELS ON THE MOON
"Do you dream that the world will know your name? So tell me your name....."
Angels on the Moon