The Green Birds and the Red Birds

Once, on a tiny island, lived a flock of unusual birds called the Yesno birds. They were unusual because they could change color and shape depending on their mood. If they were feeling positive and thought, “Yes,” they would become green and square. If they were feeling pessimistic and thought, “No,” they would become red and round.

For birds who had only two predominant thoughts, they had strong feelings about diversity. They were the rebellious sort, and never joiners. They simply could not stand to be around too many birds of the same shape and color.

Otherwise, they were ordinary birds and lived ordinary bird lives. They wandered about in the sunshine, pecking at the ground and pulling up worms.

Good natured as they were, they occasionally found themselves in a small group of Yesnos who had a particularly positive outlook. The good cheer would quickly spread and, before you knew it, everyone in the small gathering would be green and square, but only for a short time because, like I said, they hated to be joiners and, once seeing that everyone was alike, a few of them would become surly over it, and turn red again. Yesno culture guaranteed that at no time would too many birds ever be red or green, round or square at the same time.

But one day the weather became rather awful and it began to rain. Because of the dreariness of it all, one bird began to think, “No!,” and so did a few others. And, as the rain came down, one bird and then another and another thought, “No, no, no!” They each turned round and red.

The remaining, green birds, looked around at the dreary awfulness of the weather and at the other red birds, and turned quite red themselves. The entire gang of them became soggy, red and round. There was nothing to do. They did not like all being the same shape and color — not one bit. But that only brought more negative thoughts and there was no way for any of them to turn square. No way to be green. They just stood there, the horrible lot of them, sulking.

Elsewhere on the island, other birds, who had not been so ill effected by the inclement weather, still went about their business. But, when any of them came upon the red group, so horrid was the sight of all those red, soggy, sulking round birds, they immediately turned red as well.

Soon, the group grew so large it could be seen from afar. After that, like a magnet, it sucked in green birds from around the island, turned them red, and turned them round. By the end of the day, every single Yesno bird on the island had gone red.

And there they stood. All of them. Red and round. And there was nothing to do but stand there and sulk in spite of themselves. All of them thinking, “No!”

After the sun came out, they were still so unhappy to all be the same, that they all thought, “No” and remained red and round.

The Yesno birds soon came to be known merely as the “No” birds.


And then something happened!

One day, a young No bird became so very tired of sulking, of being red and round. And, from his heart he summoned something. The young one began to imagine and daydream. He thought of a time when all birds might not be red and round anymore. He daydreamed of a time when things could be different. He daydreamed of green birds and red birds coexisting again, popping back and forth… the excitement of one minute being red and the next minute being green. The daydream excited him so much that the little bird began to have…


and then he smiled.

Suddenly, in an explosion, like the first kernel of popcorn to pop in a pot upon a stove, that very bird changed green and square within a sea of round red birds!

For an instant, he was the only green and square bird on the island. He was proud and full of hope!

But then, the bird beside him was so surprised and happy to see him that it turned green and square as well! And then the next bird, and the next bird and the next. In a matter of moments, every bird on the island was so excited to see green birds that they all turned green themselves.

Of course, being the rebellious sort that they were, before long, a few of them no longer enjoyed being among birds that were all green, and a few of them turned red.

And, just like that, the Yesno birds went back to normal. They went back to their ordinary lives again of sometimes being green and sometimes being red.

But, from that day forward, something was just a little bit different than it ever was before. From then on, it seemed like, mostly, mostly… the birds were usually green.

And, sometimes, just for a moment… if you watched very carefully, occasionally, sometimes, absolutely every single one of them would be green.


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