Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Dig

There once was a gerbil, whose name I forget. He lived in a little glass cage in my bedroom when I was ten years old. In terms of scale, it pretty much equated to a home the size of a football stadium, for you or for me.

In the cage, the gerbil had food, water, a running wheel and tubes in which to climb and -- if the mood took him -- frolic. He had a companion in the cage, whose name I also forget. Covering the floor was a luxurious padding of cedar chips, two to three inches deep, as required, according to the bag, for optimal small-animal comfort and hygiene.

He was well-cared for.

He should have been, all things considered, a happy brownish rodent. Yet, there was unrest in the little devil. You see, he would dig. He would spend most of his time digging. Sure, he would play a little on his wheel and in his labyrinthine tubes. He would cavort with his pal. But, for the better part of the day and night, he would dig. He would dig until he hit the cage's glass bottom.

And when he hit the bottom, he would keep digging, his tiny claws scratching a delicate and impotent tune on the glass bottom of his home. For hours, he would "dig". To no avail. This compulsive digging continued until his death, may he rest in peace.

And as a ten-year-old lad, it occurred to me: the gerbil was not unlike all of us. Sure, he could play. Sure, he could eat. Sure, he could rest. But none of that meant anything unless he worked. Unless he had a purpose. In his case, digging.

Did he want to get out? Maybe. But I think, considering the tininess of his brain and the lack of reason, that it had more to do with wanting to do what he was born to do: tunneling.

At that point, I learned a truth about all of the creatures of all Creation: we all crave a purpose. All other things aside, we need to strive for something no matter how unattainable it might be. We need to do.

I dig. You dig? Of course you do, my friend. We all dig and dig and dig, regardless of futility or obscurity. Because we must; human or simple beast, we must.

"With plenty to eat and work to do, I am already rich." ~ Kwai Chang Caine, Kung Fu


  1. Ah, yes. Marty. He loved to dig, God bless 'im mayherestinpeace.

  2. is that why farewells can be such an emotional thing? Is it because it is one less thing to work on, or toward? hmm... Awesome work though.

  3. Karen -- is that from a movie?

    Papi -- an interesting take on farewells. Every relatiionship is work to an extent, isn't it? Cool.