Of Pecking and Poking: The Moments that Change Us for a Lifetime

Marla Rose
8 min readJan 18, 2023
Credit: John Beske

It’s probably that new year, short-days/long-nights rumination mode happening, but lately I’ve been thinking a lot about a crossroads moment in my life. Do you ever think about those watershed experiences in your life? Defining, though perhaps outwardly humdrum, incidents that reordered your life, altered your perspective, changed your trajectory? Something that left its mark on you for a lifetime?

I have had a few such moments that I can identify off the top of my head, where suddenly the illusions were stripped away and I could not return to my previous self. My contours had changed and the old me no longer fit, falling around my feet. I’m sure most of us have had at least a few.

One clear such time was when I was a child and on a school field trip to the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago. I believe I was in second grade. The MSI had an incubator where museum-goers could watch chicks pecking their way out of the shell and look at the fuzzy yellow newborns peeping for their mothers, nowhere to be found. (Sadly, this barbaric exhibit still exists.)

The day my class took the field trip, I saw a chick being pecked to death by the other captive baby birds in that metal and glass enclosure. It is still so horrible to remember but remains just seared in my brain. The chick had…