Thursday, December 22, 2011

Of Mice and Men

One summer, long ago, I was a river raft guide on the Arkansas river in southern Colorado.  I choose to live up and away from the Lazy J Ranch, where I worked. I pitched a tent in a beautiful little glade next to a babbling brook.  It  was an awesome way to spend a summer.  That summer generated a lot of great memories for me and taught me a lot about life and myself.  Several events stood out for me but I just want to mention one here.

Back then, I drove an old Ford Pinto wagon. Before you start jeering, let me tell you: That was an intrepid little car. It was solid steel and served me well.  Nearly every day, I drove it a several miles on a rocky, rutted 4 wheel drive trail - up and back.  That trail was so rough, it took out a couple of Jeeps. Not that Pinto though. That Pinto was the kind of car a mouse would drive. Huh? What's that you say? I'll explain, but bear with me.

I would frequently drive the Pinto up that nasty trail/road at night.  As you can imagine, I didn't do it fast.  I can vividly remember the drive. When the moon wasn't high overhead, it was pitch black.  In the places where the trees didn't cover the road, the sky was black and studded with fiercely bright pinpoint stars. The only illumination was from my headlights.  Where those beams stopped, so did the world.  Where those beams illuminated the rocks and ruts and trees, you would get a glimpse of the forest's hidden nightlife.  That night life mostly consisted of bugs and mice.  The forest crawled with them.  Frequently, my lights would startle a mouse innocently going about his business. When that happened, the mice all did the same thing.  They started jumping like lotto balls.  The funny thing was that they didn't necessarily jump out of the beams of my headlights.  They just started jumping in random directions and they didn't stop till they escaped the light which stripped away their dark cloak of protection - exposed them to the terrors of the world.  They were so limited, that they couldn't tell where the light stopped, so they just jumped and jumped and hoped they would come down someplace safe.  At the time, it always made me laugh.  They were so silly that it made them endearing.

Since then, my amusement has been enriched with respect. Mice are tiny and fragile creatures and their world is incredibly dangerous. Everything is bigger than them and most consider mice a tasty snack.  Yet, every day, mice get up from whatever little nest they have been able to find and they go out under the terrifying sky to find food or a better place.  In this quest, they go EVERYWHERE.  They explore every nook and cranny and they are nigh impossible to stop. They have to be either the dumbest or the bravest animal on the planet.  Either way, you have to admire them.

I think they are a good role model.  For us humans, the world is a much bigger place. We kid ourselves that being human means being in control of our environment, of our world, but it really isn't so. Every day, we go out into into the world, hoping to find food, wealth, love, happiness, purpose. But, regardless of your size, life is dangerous and capricious and in our limited vision, we can't always see what is coming or in what direction safety lay.  We could do worse than be like a mouse, always exploring, always finding new treasures - continuing to live, even through the worst of adversity.  Then, when life strips away all your comfort and protection, and you have no idea where to go, jump at whatever chance comes along.  If that chance doesn't lead you to a better place, jump again till you find what you need.

I really admire people who can do that.  Regardless of the hawks and dogs and cats life throws at them they keep going.  Those are the people I like hang out with, the people I like to write about. People who face adversity with determination and humor, people who keep going and don't give up till their heart stops beating.  That is the type of person I would like to be.

So, if someone asks, 'Are you a Man or a Mouse?', consider how brave and dauntless that mouse has to be just to leave their home.


Welcome to my blog.  Like everyone, this blog is a platform for me to spout off.  I will talk about things that I run into...wait for it... Head First while I am trying to live my life.  I don't plan to be spouting off about this, that and the other thing.  I'll save that for my friends over beer.  I don't drink, so my theory is that drinking beer will make my friends believe I am much smarter than I really am.  Not beer-goggles per-se, more like beer-muffs.

Anyway, I'll only be making entries here when I feel I have something interesting to say (without the beer-muffs)