By Carrie Bryan
“On the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much—the wheel, New York, wars and so on—whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man—for precisely the same reasons.” – Douglas Adams
I have decided that being a human is way too much work. I don’t mean the work we need to do like scrubbing toilets and making sure our socks are put away in matching pairs. It’s about the stuff we pile onto our agendas because we think we have to. We think we have to because, deep down, we are all control freaks.
Our penchant for control freakage is pervasive and all-encompassing. We run ourselves ragged trying to accomplish this, buy that, make sure someone else doesn’t beat us to the other thing. This madness even weasels its way into our prayers. (Admit it. I know some of you have made impassioned entreaties to at least one deity regarding your lottery tickets.)
Now, I understand culture, tradition, and heritage – those things that define who we are as a species. Our village is certainly steeped in lots of that. But some of it is really silly.
Case in point: I was raised by old southern women. This means I was brought up within a culture of well-defined and highly-detailed expectations. Little southern girls know by our fifth birthdays that one never wears white shoes after Labor Day, or white pants before Easter. We have our wedding flatware patterns chosen for us while we are still in the womb, and my mother wanted me to be a Gorham Chantilly with long, delicate fingers and painted nails worthy of her gilt-edged, pink porcelain teacups. To her dismay, I turned out to be a Towle Wickford with stoneware from Sears and big square farm girl hands.
Needless to say, my mom’s micromanagement plan backfired. All it did was drive me out to the barn and onto the ditchbanks. Despite my female relatives’ best efforts, I refused to be rescued from my tomboy tendencies. While I grew up civilized enough to know the difference between a shrimp fork and an oyster fork, I have used neither since my grandmother passed on in 1989. I fully expect her to come back from the afterlife and smack me upside the head for eating Thanksgiving dinner off a paper plate with a spork.
Micromanagement is something we do to feel good about ourselves. If we can point to a real or imagined “bad situation,” sticking our grubby little fingers into the world’s pies seems more justified.
Case in point: A couple of years ago a rabbit (in an uncontrollable fit of micromanagement, I named her “Lucy”) decided to have five babies in the middle of our horse corral. Dali, the pony occupying said corral, is elderly and sensible. If I were a rabbit and had to choose a roommate, Dali would be the perfect choice. But I am not a pony or a rabbit. I am a human being, and as such, I immediately went into Control Freak mode.
Rabbit! In the corral with the pony! With babies! I immediately began to picture horrible scenarios in which the pony squished the baby rabbits, or the rabbits spooked the pony into hurting herself. How was I going to get those babies out of there? Should I call the wildlife rescue people and have someone come and get them all? Before I could formulate my Brilliant Hero Rescue Plan, Lucy had nursed her quintuplets and covered the burrow back up, leaving no trace. She hopped away. Dali sniffed at the spot where Lucy had been, and calmly went back to her breakfast.
The message couldn’t have been any clearer if Grandma Louise had come back from the afterlife and smacked me upside the head with a spork. This wasn’t a heroic rescue opportunity. This is Corrales, and rabbits were here long before I was. They weren’t “poor little things,” they were normal baby rabbits, and they already had a mom. Odd as it may seem, she put them in Dali’s pen for a reason. That reason had nothing to do with me, and I needed to mind my own business.
Dali the pony and Lucy the rabbit coexisted peacefully. Every morning the bunnies got their breakfast, and Lucy covered them back up again. No one got spooked or squished. Two years and many generations of rabbits later, all is well in that quiet little corner of the world.
Next time I feel the need to be a hero, I’ll take a first-aid class. I’ll volunteer some of my time to a person in need. I’ll donate to a food bank or support a local business.
As for all that other stuff we’ve been stressing about? The universe has it under control, y’all. Really. Watch and learn.
Our little village is full of glorious chaos in the form of rabbits, coyotes, squirrels, lizards, bugs, and snakes – and how it all fits together is pretty darned amazing. As this year starts to wind down, let’s resolve to spend less time worrying, fussing, and manipulating our surroundings. We need to spend more of it mucking about on the ditchbank, having a good time.
Carrie Bryan serves as owner, manager, and chief manure re-locator at a small boarding stable in Corrales. When not riding horses or minding her chores, she tries to stop and smell the flowers – or learn something from an occasional rabbit.