Once Upon a Time…
.. in Central Park, on a sunny day, groups of children played, lovers strolled, flowers bloomed and – for that day – all seemed right in the world. And, on this day, a bag of peanuts fell out of a stroller as a mother hurried a child home. (Just by the by, the child never missed the nuts, as she was being rushed home to see Pippa Pig, her favorite show, and she was very busy exploring how to place cheerios up her nostrils. So, it was a perfect day even for that little girl.)
With the bag of peanuts on the ground there was a race to get to them. Tentative squirrels crawled down the trees in increments, searching for safety before proceeding again a few feet at a time. Chipmunks crawled in confusing formations towards bag, helter skelter, but proceeding always closer. Pigeons, the worst of all Central Park creatures sent out a call that brought others fleetly on the wing.
But first to the bag were a squirrel and chipmunk, both thought reckless by their families. The squirrel and the chipmunk were conditioned by years of history and tried to ignore each other, but finally one spoke. You could ask them later who spoke first and what they said, but neither really remembered. Instead they remembered looking at each other and freezing on the spot.
The other animals froze in place thinking that, perhaps from their vantage points, the squirrel and the chipmunk saw something they did not. The pigeons flew, ungainly as pigeons are apt to be, just far enough away to be safe, but not so far as to lose sight of the tasty morsels.
But the squirrel and the chipmunk did not freeze out of fear. Or, at least, not fear of a predator, but fear of scaring the other.
The squirrel looked at the chipmunk, saw its refined coloring, whip fast reflexes and soulful eyes. The chipmunk saw the squirrel’s busy tail, which swished in excitement despite the squirrel’s best efforts to control it, and the bright energetic face. And, without saying a word, they both turned together and ran into the underbrush.
And there, the squirrel and the chipmunk played and laughed and fell in love.
Now, Central Park is a pretty easy place to find food; humans are messy spoiled creatures who leave extra bits around all the time. Plenty of food for a squirrel and a chipmunk, in love, to forage without having to commit to tree or burrow. And they had a wonderful full life. They visited the zoo after it was closed and watched the animals from far away – grizzly bears from Montana, penguins from South Africa, cheetahs from the Himalayas. They even made a quick trip or two to the hot baths on monkey island.
Sometimes they slept in the trees, towering far above the park, looking out at the sparkling lights of the city just beyond. And sometimes they slept in a burrow, listening to the quiet of the park and the smells and sounds that come out if you just wait long enough.
They were happy. Until.
One day, one fateful day – as it turned out, the squirrel and the chipmunk were running through the park when they came upon a Volkswagen display of the new Tourag. Squirrels in the trees called down to the pair and said, “Imagine how many nuts you could store in that for the winter.”
Chipmunks called out from the hiding places and holes called out to the pair, “Think how safe we would be in that, safe and watching the world!”
And the squirrel and the chipmunk stopped for a moment and thought how happy they could be together in the Tourag, full of nuts and safe from the monsters outside. And they lingered holding little paws. But they lingered too long. And in a swipe before they even noticed, a dog (unleashed!) came barreling out and grabbed the squirrel. The poor chipmunk let out a yell, which brought it to the attention of a hawk, circling far above which swooped down and grabbed the chipmunk.
And the squirrel mother said to the young squirrels, “That is why we stay here, safe in the trees.”
And the chipmunk mother said to the young chipmunks, “That is why we stay here, safe in hiding.”
And the pigeon said (hard to believe - but this pigeon was quite an ethicist), “This is all the fault of the engineers at Volkswagen who cheated on the emissions test, so that in order to sell new cars they have to take a non-traditional sales route. Without that shiny nut holder here, these two would still be happy.”
But I say that the moral of the story is that for a moment, for a day, or a month, or a lifetime, two souls fell in love and enjoyed a world neither had ever known before. Enjoy every day you have together. Be careful, but not too cautious. The world is wider and more beautiful that you can imagine alone. You need someone to imagine it with.
|I imagine my world with this guy.|