Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Jarvis and the Cage (A Parable)

There once was a little black-and-white rabbit. He was quite a rabbit, but a rabbit nonetheless, and this meant that he was jerky and twitchy and had a fuzzy coat that left floating, white puffs in the air behind him when he darted off in one direction or another.

One day, he was bought by a young couple who decided to treat him like a companion and not as a caged curiosity. They taught him to relieve himself in his cage and not in the living room. The young man made a carpeted ramp so that Jarvis could get in and out of his cage easily. The cage was roomy and multi-leveled, so that Jarvis could have a few places in which to lie down and a vista to sit upon and from which he could observe the outside world (the living room).

And Jarvis seemed pleased.

He spent long stretches of time on the couch with his owners, getting scratched and petted and then he would suddenly jump down and bolt around the living room, becoming a white blur that would stop "on a dime," as they say, and then flop contentedly onto the carpet. He'd rub his ears with his forepaws and he'd watch baseball on the young man's lap, dozing.

Jarvis spent time, each day, out of the cage and whenever he had quite enough of being in, he would show his owners how he felt by nibbling insistently at the bars of the door with his long, white, front teeth. They'd chuckle and let him out and he would flop and run and flop and run and cuddle and run.

He knew the joy of running.

But times became more complicated. The couple began careers and spent more time out of the house, so Jarvis, a chewer of electrical cords who could not be trusted alone in the wide living room, spent more time in his cage than before.

When the couple were home, he would gnaw at the bars and they would let him out, but, more and more often, they simply could not let him out. He would gnaw insistently and then less insistently until the gnawing at the bars stopped and Jarvis contented himself with sleeping and flopping, albeit comfortably, in his big cage.

Sometimes, stretches of time would come during which they would begin to let him out more often and Jarvis seemed pleased. When he was in the cage, he again began gnawing insistently to be let out.

But life got even more complicated and children came. And Jarvis stayed nearly always in his cage. Gradually, again, he forgot to gnaw and he contented himself with resting in the pine shavings and cleaning his ears with his paws.

In this way, Jarvis finished his life, gratefully accepting pettings and treats of celantro, parsely and the green tops of strawberries from the hands of the couple, who would reach into the cage to show him affection but who couldn't let him run around much at all anymore, afraid he would be innocently crushed by the children; knowing they could not let him run without being closely watched around the electric cords.

One day the man walked into the woods with Jarvis, who simply had not awakened in the morning. He buried the poor creature under a tree in the woods on a summer afternoon.

As the man wiped his brow, feeling guilty about the time his pet had spent confined, he wondered whether the rabbit would have been more content to have never left his cage -- more content not having known what it meant to run and flop and cuddle on the couch -- or whether those times of freedom and their memories had made the creature's lifetime a journey worth taking; a journey other rabbits might have envied.

As the clouds flopped comfortably in the sky, the man looked up a small hill, through the trees, at his own house. His children were looking out the window at the outside world. They tried to open the window and could not; they waved and disappeared from his sight.

No comments:

Post a Comment