It’s better to be your genuine self and have fewer of the right kinds of people in your life than it is to surround yourself with those who only accept you as long as you conform to their idea of who you should be.

Zero Dean

Author | Photographer | CG Artist | Filmmaker

The Little Red Hen

The Little Red Hen

When I was a kid (quite young — like 4 or 5), someone gave me a children’s book…

The story involved the main character — I think a female kangaroo — trying to gather all the ingredients necessary to bake a cake.

She went all over the neighborhood asking various animal characters for help…

Got eggs? Milk? Butter? Sugar?

And in response to her requests, each of the characters she asked for help came up with a bunch of excuses as to why they couldn’t spare what she needed (or otherwise offer any assistance).

Despite getting rejected, she persisted. And although it took her longer, she gathered everything she needed the hard way.

And then she baked a hell of a cake.

Folks in her neighborhood all smelled the cake and came by to admire it. It was amazing.

And, of course, they were all eager for a slice of this delicious smelling masterpiece.

And she said, “Sorry, but no.”

And then went on to explain what was the moral of the story…

Which was basically, that if you’re able, but not willing to contribute in some meaningful way to helping someone make a cake, don’t expect cake when the cake gets made.

Anyway, this story (not the details, but the moral) has stuck with me my entire life. (I wish I had a copy of that book — or at least knew the title).

Similar to the moral of this story is something Will Smith once said, “If you’re absent during my struggle, don’t expect to be present during my success.”

Now, I’ve been on this journey I’m on for nearly 5 years. And it’s been anything but easy.

It’s been the most difficult thing I’ve ever done and continue to do. And I say that without any amount of exaggeration.

(And if you don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, it’s because I don’t put my struggles front and center — and the few that I do, I tend to joke about them.

I keep the majority of my hardships to myself — perhaps for my book, but mostly because I don’t want what I offer here to be about that. And I haven’t found a way to share those aspects of my journey without them being distracting — or misinterpreted.

But if this is something you’d like to know more about, just ask).

But I do what I can with what I have, despite how limited my resources are. And I try to make it work.

And while it’s been difficult, it’s also been rewarding. And there are signs I’m making progress. But it hasn’t been rewarding (yet) in any significant way that has yielded resources I can use — other than the experiences & lessons I share.

Those of you who are actually reading this are some of my biggest supporters — even if that simply comes in the form of a comment or encouragement. The fact that you’re even reading this wall of text says a lot. (*THANK YOU*).

This post has nothing to do with you.

It does however, have much to do with those (more than a few people) I’ve asked for assistance along the way — or wished to discuss something related to this “project” of mine, and they all declined or failed to give me the time of day or even any kind of encouragement.

And yet, in the nearly 5 years I’ve been doing this, many of these same people — with apparently short memories — have all managed to come back around asking me for favors or simply wondering why I’m not actively involved with some new thing that they’re doing.

And if they ever read this children’s book, it would be obvious.

Even if you have nothing to give someone, kind words and encouragement (expressed sincerely) cost nothing.

RE: The Little Red Hen (Wikipedia)

Zero Dean

Zero Dean

Author of Lessons Learned From The Path Less Traveled. Professional photographer. Filmmaker. Humorist. Into photography, art, kindness, compassion, and living beyond comfort. Normal is boring.