Saturday, November 7, 2015

When Life Lessons Come in the Form of a Packrat

Yes, I am awake again.

Two-thirty a.m., and the packrat -- the one that knows not to take the bait in the live trap, the snap trap, and who eludes my killer cat, Simone -- is at it again. He has found a way into the duct work and has found something to gnaw on. That something has the acoustics of a stand-up bass, and amplifies every little chew into a late night megaphone of irritation.

He, or she, has gotten my attention. I am up with my flashlight, my headlamp, my broom, my shotgun, my Howitzer, and my brass knuckles. I am going to get him.

Only I can't. He is hidden behind plumbing and conduit and couldn't care less about my superiority in the arms race or the hierarchy of Being that puts me and my fellow hominids, especially homo sapiens, well above a lowly rodent.

In fact, he appears in the beam of light, smiles a greeting, and then goes back to gnawing.


This is not the first time this has happened. Everywhere I go, whether Mount Lemmon or New Mexico, I run into my nemeses.

They are in my purview, my line of sight, and won't take no for an answer when it comes to stepping out of the spotlight of my attention.

I am left with no alternative but to consider the packrat my teacher for the time being.

What am I to glean here, dear Buddha in rodent form, from your presence, your smiling invitation to consider my spiritual curriculum? If you could speak, what would you say?

"Oh dear pilgrim, you are irritated by me and my avarice. I can see that. But this is my nature, so I have no choice but to reflect back to you some of your weakness in the ways of things. You, dear biped, while not a hoarder, have let things collect around you to the point where you are choking on them. I am here to tell you to let go, to toss out, to pass along, to free yourself of your need for things. After all, we lowly types have no choice, you of the 'sapiens' species are supposed to be able to reflect, decide, and then act in the world's best interest. You don't have to take more than what you need."

"Ah my unwelcome packrat, I hear you and I agree, but it is not that easy. For you see I am identified with all of this and without it I should not be able to rest until I possessed it all again."

"That may be, but it is not my problem to solve. You need to do what you need to do. You can resist or you can surrender. It's nothing to me."

"If I act on your lesson, will you leave me alone at night, let me sleep?"

"If there are not piles of objects around here, I tend to lose interest and move on. I can't promise anything though."

"I may trap you and take you away. Or my cat will catch you. Then I won't have to think about this anymore."

"That may be too, but, for now, I am here and you can't seem to get rid of me. Plus I am legion. My brothers and sons will come after me when I am gone. It's all up to you. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some work to do, to get more space to store my treasures. It as, after all, what I do."

Then he leaves me there, in the cold, November night.

When I lie down, it is quiet. It looks like he will spare me his gnawing for the time being.

Just as I am about to drift off, Simone jumps up on the bed and gently places her paw on my eyelid.

She sits, calmly, purring, everything about her saying "It's time to wake up." 

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