Thursday, April 16, 2015
I was startled the other day when I walked out of our office and saw a mouse. He was right next to the building. I expected him to dart away, but he didn't. He just sat there, plain as day.
We've had some mice in the basement but I'd never seen one outside. I kept waiting for him to take off but he didn't. He just sat there and sat there and sat there. And I just kept watching him.
Watching his little pelt flex with every breath. Watching his little ears wrinkle. His eyes blink. And he seemed like an old mouse.
Well, I had to get back to work so I figured I'd make a noise and see where he ran to (and see if maybe he had found a way to get into the building). So I clapped my hands.
The mouse definitely reacted but in a way I didn't expect. He just kind of turned and ran into the wall. Then he stopped and stayed there panting.
That really piqued my curiosity—and my compassion.
I started to wonder if the mouse was perhaps blind, and then if he was perhaps dying. (And I felt like a jerk for having clapped my hands.)
This little thing was so vulnerable, and yet was he really that different than me? A mammal. Warm blood in his veins. A heart beating. The same sense organs. And he was struggling and just trying to stay alive. And perhaps dying.
I felt an immense compassion for this little creature and for all the animal world really. It's tough out there for everybody: humans and all creatures. We're all just trying to live, to be safe, to have a home. And some of us are blind or sick or scared or dying.
I had to go back into work. The next time I came out the mouse was gone. But I really hoped he had found a peaceful, safe place to spend the rest of his days. He probably saw me as a giant terror, but I saw him as a fellow vulnerable traveller on this planet spinning through the universe. I wished him well.
Perhaps that's the true gift of being human. We are beyond instinct. No longer slaves to 'fight or flight.' We can stop, think, relate, empathize, change, care. And not just for ourselves or other people, but for all the creatures on this planet who are sharing the same scary, vulnerable, glorious ride along with us.