December 21, 2011

The Little Girl In Me


See there, that little girl, kneeling by the creek? She has one hand in the ice cold water reaching for a scampering crawfish just beyond her grasp. Although she dips her hand in the water, part of her doesn't really want to catch the crawfish because she is afraid of its pinchers, but a voice inside her says, "Act fast, or it will get away and you'll never know if its pinchers are worth your fear." And so, she dips her hand in again a little more aggressively this time and grabs the crawfish in her hand accepting any pain attached to this new experience.

See there, the glory of the catch on her face? She's smiling now and the crawfish is wiggling uselessly in her fingers because its legs can't touch the ground. But she won't hurt it. She'll take good care of it. She'll even let it pinch her just so the crawfish will gain some compensation for being caught. Soon the pinches will be a sort of dialogue between the two of them. And so she plays for a little while before returning the crawfish to its habitat so it can be free. With an unspoken goodbye, she releases her new friend into the rapidly moving current where it belongs and the little girl accepts that their momentary friendship is all that she will ever know.

Oh Little Girl, you will always be that little girl, constantly friendly with your unfriendly surroundings. You will never stop befriending creatures unlike yourself. You will always welcome momentary pain to enjoy the fleeting treasure while it lasts. Some of the creatures will mildly pinch you. Some will sting beyond your expectation. Some will scurry away and ignore your hello. Some will allow your approach, but only because they are already wounded and limping. And with each one there is the novelty of the catch but also the sad awareness of the inevitable release.

Over and over and over again, Little Girl, you will retrace these steps . . . notice, approach, contact, be pinched, release. . . notice, approach, contact, be pinched, release . . . and you will always consider the contact worth the pain of the pinch. But is the contact worth the pain of the release? For the release lasts much longer than the pinch.

With each new encounter this question weighs more heavily on the little girl.

And the little girl replies, "No. I suppose the contact is not worth the pain of the release. But one day, when I find the one that doesn't pinch or bite or sting or scurry from my reach, it will want to be found as much as I want to find it, and that one will be worth all the releases."

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