It's hard to say why Cinderella went to the trouble of repeatedly breaking out of the straw-padded "rehab room", dragging her lame leg across the bare floor of a couple of empty rooms, hoisting her aching body from foot-stool, to chair, to dresser, only to roost in front of the only mirror in the house - the vanity mirror.
At first, we thought these escapades were her way of signaling to us that she was ready to rejoin her flock outside, and we joked that, before "leaving the hospital", she was trying to make sure she looked as "normal" as possible. But it soon became clear that Cinderella's aim was the mirror, not the chicken yard. It also became clear that, while she understood perfectly why roosting by the mirror was important to her, we could only try to guess and speculate. Maybe what drove her was curiosity. Maybe it was the intellectual challenge of successfully completing a difficult obstacle course. Maybe she was driven by questions that we humans can only begin to imagine, and found answers we can only dream of. Maybe she recognized her reflection in the mirror as "self" and delighted in that discovery. Maybe she perceived it as "other" - perhaps an utterly fascinating other, and delighted in that stranger's company.
Maybe the reflection's uncanny ability to move in perfect unison with her, to never leave her side, and to sweetly cluck back in perfect harmony, provided an experience of peace, comfort, safety and trust that she, an orphan, had yearned for but had never known.
Like all birds bred for human consumption, Cinderella was born in an incubator, denied her mother's presence, tossed with thousands of other orphans in a dark warehouse, genetically manipulated to grow morbidly large, morbidly fast to "desired market weight", she was robbed not only of her body's most basic health, and her mind's most basic needs, but also deprived of her heart's most essential experience - a mother's love: the certainty that someone in the world loves her, wants her to live, wants her to flourish.
So we don't know precisely what she gets out of roosting in front of the vanity mirror. But it's safe to assume that she seeks what we all seek- a measure of comfort and meaning, a handle on the beauty and burden of being alive and conscious. For some reason, she seems to find it in the company of her own reflection.
The joy of seeing Cinderella here at the sanctuary, in full bloom of awareness, and mood, and thought, and wonder, and questions, and quirks, and memories, comes with the wound of knowing that millions of intelligent, dream-filled beings like her are reduced daily to buckets of amputated body parts, mocked as meat, flushed as sewage.
The joy and pain of knowing Cinderella also comes with the realization that there is infinitely more comfort and meaning in saving innocent lives like hers - one vegan meal at a time - than there is in pretending that they have no value - one severed "hot wing" at a time.
© 2006 Joanna Lucas
If living ethically is important to you, please remember that there is nothing humane about “humane” animal farming, just as there is nothing ethical or defensible about consuming its products. When confronted with the fundamental injustice inherent in all animal agriculture—a system that is predicated on inflicting massive, intentional and unnecessary suffering and death on billions of sentient individuals—the only ethical response is to strive to end it, by becoming vegan, not to regulate it by supporting “improved” methods of producing dairy, eggs, meat, wool, leather, silk, honey, and other animal products. For more information, please read The Humane Farming Myth. Live vegan and educate others to do the same.