On our morning yard walk Ginger dove into the brush. She had seen or smelled a mouse and was quick enough to grab it. She made to run with it. Not knowing what she had I issued the commands “Far enough” (stop) and “Leave it” (you don’t get to eat what ever that is). The mouse was still alive and yet damaged too much to do anything but lay there. I stood conflicted.
It would be more humane to kill it so it did not suffer. I picked it up and held it in my gloved hand. How soft its body was. How velvety its fur. Its breath rapid. The mouse pushed feebly against my hand as I cradled it. I put it back on the ground. Consumed by my own indecision. I have always told myself I could kill if ever I needed to. If my children were threatened there was a mamma bear inside that would explode into action. Whatever was required to protect those I love or myself.
Putting my boot over the mouse I pushed down only to feel not-at-all-soft firmness. The mouse moved and squeaked. I withdrew. I could not do it and stood looking down at the mouse. Is the momma bear belief false? Could I attack or kill if it was me or them? What a wimpy shit I am. Standing there believing I should do something. Tears now running down my cheeks. Mourning a small life. Crushed by my own inadequacies. Marveling at the time it takes for a body to stop. How unrealistic the movies are. They depict people dropping dead instantly or continuing to fight and run with impossible injuries.
Should have let Ginger have it. At least the death would have been quicker. In the kingdom of nature and animals there is no malice, grief, judgement of right and wrong. It is simply instinct of the moment. Opportunity and reaction.
The mouse stretched one hind leg and was still. It was over. In that moment I realized I was not supposed to have done anything. I was simply to be present. A witness to the natural movements of the world. The expectation of action on my part and the subsequent judgements that I was wrong, weak, overly empathetic were, at their root, fabricated.
How often we are pulled into doing, fixing, helping. I believe much of the time we are providing support and welcomed assistance. There are also those moments when we act out of societal training and expectations. Toxic notions of what constitutes strength, what is cruel, what is humane. Caught up with what we think is expected our inner voice is blocked. We miss what is real and true for ourselves.
In addition it seems humanity has trouble with just being present. Especially if grief, pain, suffering, shame or embarrassment are in the mix. We prefer to push (fix it) for them to get over it rather than feel the mirrored emotion other’s plight triggers in us. So uncomfortable with dark emotions. We are barely able to handle our own much less someone else’s. Again, there is programing that says what is and is not acceptable. What emotions we are and are not to express and when. It is the hardest thing to do, to just be present. Sitting with what is, is so vulnerable.
Yet with our armor down, our soul laid open letting the moment wash over us we are most connected to life. Feeling it all we gain deep understand of ourselves. Awareness and new perspectives show up. Even in the most improbable places. Even in the brief moment with a dying mouse.
Coach Christine Clark