I watch the mouse scamper across the dining room rug as I take my eyes off the computer screen in the living room. Here, life is calling out to me in the quiet of my house. A living critter has the guts to come out in broad daylight, look me dead in the eye, and feel no fear from me, a being so much larger and possibly more ferocious than himself.
I stop writing. Wonder if it is the same mouse my son saw in the adjoining room the day before. The “bold, brazen article” is what I called that mouse who stood on both back legs, sniffed the air around him, and slowly jaunted across the kitchen floor with nary a worry to his whiskers. He seemed to have no care for his arch-enemy, the cat. And we have two that sleep around our house. When not eating and visiting the litter box. They have been known to “play” with mice. Never did treat them as food. Ever since my son started to raise mice in his bedroom — thereby increasing the rodent population to over 100 in our Conshohocken, PA, home — the cats have kind of treated the mice as busy bees, nice bees without an ability to sting. I really believe the cats took a maternal attitude toward them, especially when they watched so many scurry around the different cages, running on wheels, playing among themselves and just doing what caged mice and house cats do a lot, and that is eating and sleeping.
Along with the mice, however, came the little fleas. We had to release the mice outdoors; some 30 in our backyard and the rest in a wooded area within a nearby park. The fleas seem to spread everywhere, and we would never rid ourselves of them with nests of mice all over the place. Didn’t know the mice would cause any more trouble until years later when a neighbor mentioned the number of times she needed to call an exterminator for mice that suddenly appeared on her property some five or six houses away from our home. I figured the mice must have migrated, but kept that knowledge to myself.
Could that critter that’s been making the rounds in our house the past two days be a relative of the original batch of mice? Is that why he feels no threat from me or another human being? Because some gene was passed down alerting him that we were “friends,” or past pet-owners?
I have a different theory. The mouse senses that I will not harm him, that I will not take his life, or even aid a cat in the taking of the life of a mouse. Somehow, someway I believe that the hours of meditation I have invested in my house the past two years, have created a “calming” atmosphere. Particularly, for animals of all shapes and sizes. There is now a “no harm” zone that has first encompassed the two cats, then spread to other critters. Both cats take turns either lying near me or lounging on my lap when I meditate. Whatever peace and contentment meditation has provided me, must have “seeped out,” and entered them through a process of osmosis.
The animals have become my “Buddha buddies,” and have gained internally a lot of what meditation has provided me: love and compassion. I feel that those feelings have extended to them and from them to all other sentient beings.
Or maybe the mouse has PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and simply doesn’t care what anybody will do to him, because he’s angry – – full of guilt and grieve – – and is going to carry out his mission no matter what it cost him, his family or friends.
Nah. I like the Buddha explanation better.