What's Your Cow?

One day, a master and his student were walking through the forest and they saw a house from afar made out of wood and in very poor condition. They approached it and saw a family living there. They asked the man in the house how they survived like this and the man man answered, "We have a cow. This cow gives us milk, we sell it, and that is how we survive." The master and his student left and after they had walked a little farther, the master turned to his student and said, "Kill the cow". The student was unsure about this but he listened to his teacher. He led the cow to a ledge and pushed it off. The cow was dead! The student, however, wasn't very happy with it and years later came back to the family to apologize. But when he got to the house, he noticed it was not the same old wooden house anymore, but it was made out of stone. And the family was wearing better clothes, the garden was flourishing, the grass was green...The student asked the man what happened and he told him, "We used to have a cow, but I found it dead one day. We were completely dependent on the cow, which gave us milk to survive and we didn't know what we would do without it. But once we lost it, we realized that we needed to figure out a new means of survival. Step by step we worked hard and we discovered new abilities. And now we can live in better conditions than when we had our cow providing all our necessities for us."

This is the Chinese fable we started our class with last night. The kids were fascinated, because we used action figures to act out the story and they never saw Mario as a master or the green power ranger as a student. Haha! The moral of the story last night was that we all have our "cows" - something that gives us the basics, our refuge, our dependency, our routine. For some people their "cows" can be their jobs, their loved ones, where they live, their paychecks, their habits...

So, we talked about our "cows" and the result of this conversation was incredible! They started at surface level, but we were able to go deeper and talk about their real "cows". From technology, fears, pressures, to selfishness and laziness. They all realized that their "cows" give them "milk" - it satisfies them and they become idle, allowing their "cow" to provide all the "milk" they need to get by. But they all agreed that this is dangerous and that we need to push our "cows" off the ledge so we can discover new abilities and improve the lives of ourselves and the people around us.  

While one talked about his cow being technology some suggested that they could spend that time reading books instead.  During the week we get to spend some time together reading but in Brazilian culture students don't really read much. They see it as an obligation and therefore hate it. They are able to read the words, but they don't understand what they are really saying. I pointed this out to them and then offered reading classes to help increase their comprehension skills and love for reading. At the end of our class, 7 students took a book home to read this week. Maybe that doesn't mean much to you, but this shows us so much. VIVA is being a place where they are able to talk about their "cows", be inspired, figure themselves out, and make changes to make their lives better. THIS IS AMAZING AND POWERFUL!

We hope you enjoy today's post and think about your "cow" - something that doesn't give you space to grow because it's all you need to survive. It's never too late to push it off the cliff and discover new abilities!