Sunday, October 18, 2009

Of animals, and a place in this world.

I was reading "The Wind in the Willows" earlier this week (one of my favorite books, by the way), and this last paragraph of the chapter "Mr Badger" jumped out at me:

As he hurried along, eagerly anticipating the moment when he would be at home again among the things he knew and liked, the Mole saw clearly that he was an animal of tilled field and hedgerow, linked to the plowed furrow, the frequented pasture, the lane of evening lingerings, the cultivated garden plot. For others, the asperities, the the stubborn endurance, or the clash of actual conflict, that went with Nature in the rough; he must be wise, must keep to the pleasant places in which his lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime.

That brought to mind something I'm sure we've all heard at some time or another - that we must be content with what our place in the world is. We can't all be heroes, and for some of us, the most heroic thing we will ever do is accept that we will not fight any battles or be admired for the wonderful things we have done. No, many of us will simply exist in the small struggles and joys and adventures of everyday life.

This may sound unappealing. Like Eowyn in The Lord of the Rings, we may cry out that we want to battle and be held in renown, not be sent to help the women and children. Where is the renown in that? But is renown all we should seek? Perhaps the most important thing we could be doing at the moment is insuring that others are safe and comfortable, working for the common good in whatever way we're most capable of, and not falling to the temptation of pridefulness.

Very possibly one is fully capable of fighting a battle, of doing brave and glorious things. But if that is not what we're called on to do, it's a valuble thing to learn to be content with "...the pleasant places in which (our) lines were laid and which held adventure enough, in their way, to last for a lifetime." We must be wise.

So here I promised a reflection on one book and gave you one on a different one! Ah well...the Casablanca/Jane Eyre/parable of the workers in the vineyard post will be coming soon! I won't set a date, though, because I always feel guilty if I can't meet it. ;)

Oh, and another thing I noticed in this reading of The Wind in the Willows is that each of the four main characters are very much prototypes of the four temperaments! We have the courageous, confident, take-charge Ratty (choleric); the home-loving, peaceful, thoughtful Mole (melancholic); the cheerful, gregarious, cocky Toad (sanguine); and the reclusive, wise, peace-making Badger (phlegmatic). Interesting...I wonder if Kenneth Graham did that on purpose.

And, just for the fun of it, here are pictures of all of our pets!
Jack Sparrow the cockatiel, commonly known as Jack, Jacky Boord, or Mr Baby.
Ratty, the enormous (22 lb, 13-inch long tail!) blind cat, also known as Piggy, Toad, or Mr Baby (among other things!).
Smoky, the big chubby cat, usually known as Moky or Gub-Gub.
Sophie, the prittoo little puffball.

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