The story is told of a herd of deer who became trapped one winter in a steep ravine. With much of the winter left to go and no real supply of food, they were doomed to die. They only needed to survive until the deep snows melted, and then they would be able to easily escape their predicament. When some local residents discovered the plight of the herd, they banded together as a town and began throwing hay down to the trapped animals. They delivered a significant amount of food to the deer. But several weeks later were troubled to discover that all of the animals were dead.
When they investigated, the hay had indeed been eaten, yet the deer all died of obvious starvation. What nobody realized, especially the deer, was that alfalfa - grass hay - won't nourish deer. They ate it all the same, it seemed like food to them. But they all starved to death with full stomachs.
Photos by Derek Howard
As humans, our need for nourishment exceeds just food. We also require emotional and intellectual nurturing. But like deer we can too easily confuse true sustenance with empty filler.
In order to nurture our minds and our souls, we must take care to not only find the proper "food", but also avoid too much of that which will do us damage. Like a stomach with limited space, if we consume too much meaningless and damaging "content", we reduce our ability to consume that which we need.
How can we find the fillers in our own life?
Here are some criteria you can use to identify what may be taking space, but providing no nourishment.
First, is it quick and easy to obtain? Second, does it give the appearance of providing something important, like meaning or connection? Third, can it easily consume a lot of your time and energy? And finally, after you consume it does it leave you feeling "empty"?
Some obvious examples would be things like social media, pornography, gaming or other hobbies, drugs and alcohol, etc. Any of these can meet the above criteria for things that "fill us up", but leave us starving, like hay to a deer.
So what is your hay? What do you fill your time and head with that is slowly starving you?
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