"The early bird catcheth the worm." - Old English Proverb
PicturePhotography by Joseph Osei-Bonsu


"The early bird catcheth the worm."; this proverb means that diligence and preparation elicits success, eventually. In other words, those who prepare themselves well enough by working hard enough, forfeiting immediate pleasure for long term goals, ultimately 'make it' in life. The general idea is that, those who don't or aren't able to strike oil in their lifetime, simply didn't look hard enough. This philosophy is nothing but glorified humanism perpetrated by western thinking. Why is the billionaire CEO who wakes up as early as 4am, working 10 or more hours for 6 or 7 days straight, considered to be more 'prepared' and more 'hardworking' than the Angolan widow who does the same thing at the nearby stone quarry? Should you pose the above question to most motivational speakers, so-called successful people and experts, they will deflect from answering it by making variations of this excuse:

"It is not possible to compare each random person's success or failure to the next random person's success or failure. This is because in dealing with human success or failure, there is either too much information or too little data for one to consider as relevant or irrelevant in a person's life. This exponentially increases the error margin in the research or study. Hence, you could spend a whole lifetime studying an error."

From the above explanation, we can deduce that neither generalizing nor specializing, is the best way to analyze human success and failure. And that, a considerable measure of every individual's success or failure can be attributed to sporadic occurrences of good or bad 'fortune' which are beyond that person's complete control. This 'fortune' has been described as many things such as 'luck', 'fate', 'destiny', 'the hand of God' etc. Call it what you want, but this excuse of the so-called success experts, proves that the early bird doth not always catch the worm. Why then are the shelves in our libraries and memories in our iPads filled with books that seek to method-ize success by listing '10', '20', '7', or '100' "keys to success"?
    Another school of thought will answer the same question (Why is the billionaire CEO who wakes up as early as 4am, working 10 or more hours for 6 or 7 days straight, considered to be more 'prepared' and more 'hardworking' than the Angolan widow who does the same thing at the nearby stone quarry?), with variations of this response:

"Though hardwork and preparation increases one's chances of 'making it', one's prospects of success in life heavily depends on factors like race, gender, class, birthright, and others.”

The whole idea is that, it is possible to work harder than everybody else, prepare earlier than everybody else, yet:
The colour of your epidermis, the nature of the tongue you speak, the type of sexual organ you carry in your crotch, where you got an education, where you sit at the table of society, who your friends are or are not, what your daddy left you with, the value of the currency in your pocket, the type name you were christened with, could become your own undoing. Even though the interpretation of this as being a good thing or an evil thing is relative to each of us and our situations, the inevitable conclusion about it is simplified in one adjective - tragic! The bird that riseth early knoweth not for sure whether its painstaking endeavours to catch the worm will prove futile or fruitful. What a tragedy!
    Last, and certainly the least number of the so-called experts of 'success' and 'successful' people answer the question (Why is the billionaire CEO who wakes up as early as 4am, working 10 or more hours for 6 or 7 days straight, considered to be more 'prepared' and more 'hardworking' than the Angolan widow who does the same thing at the nearby stone quarry?) with a shrug and with four magic words:

"I don't know."

Their response is not a sign defeatism, rather, it is the acknowledgement of the objective conclusion that most of what we call 'success', is not success at all. Think about it: does the early bird who caught the worm become more of a bird than her fellow compatriots who came later? It obviously makes her a well-fed bird but does it classify her as a 'super' bird over the others who were late? It is true that most people are lazy and as a result, deserve to fail. It cannot be disputed that hardworking people deserve to be rewarded for their efforts. But how many times do we see the roles reversed, where the diligent are rewarded with poverty whiles the lazy enjoy the riches of another's labour? This strange vanity warrants an i-don't-know response. In fact, it is the only true response concerning the mysteries of life. We don't know really know what success is. If we cannot know a thing, how  can we prove what it is not? What then becomes of failure? I have come to the conclusion and the strongest belief that what the world calls 'success', is literally or metaphorically HAVING A FULL STOMACH. Just like the early bird, having a 'fuller stomach' doesn't make you more of a being than the next person. And likewise, having a hungrier belly doesn't make one less of a human being than the next. Somehow, the modern-day human believes this - even to the point of death. We've misunderstood what success truly is, hence, our vision has become distorted: turning left to right, up to down.

Success is the fulfillment of original intent.    

    A car is a success if it can perform the original intent for which it was invented: transportation. A pencil is a success if it can perform the original intent for which it was made: making marks on a suitable material. Humanity is a success if it can perform the original intent for which it was created: assuming responsibility over the Earth's resources. This is the original intent of the creation of all men. Everything else outside of this is another man-made pursuit for self-preservation and private ambition. The pursuit of self-preservation and private ambition has replaced mankind's original intent. We can see its full operation in our religions (including atheism and agnosticsm), politics, education, justice/legal systems, social lives, economies and our day-to-day interactions with the Earth. A man or a woman's priority for diligence and preparation should not be to satisfy her needs, cravings or desires, but to understand what role he or she is to play in the responsible management of the earth and its inhabitants. This is a difficult concept for people to assimilate, especially, a person who has been rejected, oppressed, abused and mistreated owing to gender, race, social class, family inheritance etc. The early bird rarely saves any part of the worm it manages to find for those who were late. On the contrary, she gulps down the creeping creature before any other bird arrives to contest with her. By filling her belly, she starves the rest. Even though she doesn't become more of a bird than the others, the later birds follow her in hope of finding the 'success' she has found. This pursuit of a full stomach becomes their driving force each day. Until, the later birds realize that worms aren't the only delicacies in the earth, and that by breaking away from the leadership of the early bird, they will find their own catch; they will continually enslave themselves to the early bird. Not all birds like worms, and those that don't eat them are never found where the early bird caught its worm. Overtaking the early bird requires that one of the birds breaks free from the flock in order find his own catch, at the place of his own choosing. To achieve your own, true success in life, there must be a point in your life where you decide to break free from what you were taught or what you thought was success. Then you must strive to re-discover the original intent for your presence here on Earth, and give it all you've got!