I was visiting back and forth via text with a long-time and very close personal friend. We’ve shared some life together and I have valued his friendship for nearly two decades now. He’s recently purchased a small farm well outside the city, and like most of us, he’s experimenting. Much like Thoreau’s most known work, “Walden” he is learning from the land. A very educated and intellectual man, he’s pondering and contemplating. Here is a quote from Walden that may offer some context in parallel to the time my confidant is enjoying at his hobby farm:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.
— Henry David Thoreau, “Where I Lived, and What I Lived For”, in Walden
It struck me as odd initially when he sent me videos of snakes he’d recently taken. The video below is a water snake that has captured an unwitting frog. You can clearly hear the frog’s distress.
This was text accompanying the video:
“I spent part of yesterday watching water snakes at my place. I have a lot of them. As you will see…they are a lot like the federal government. …After watching for a while, I decided I’m not a fan of these specific snakes, at least yesterday I wasn’t, so I smacked this one with a stick. He puked up the frog, which only had a nose and eyes in this world by then. The frog was a bit shell shocked, but by the time I had walked away the snake had decided there were better things to do with his time.”
I chuckled a little bit as I ruminated on his musings. Then the next text popped up from him before I had put my phone down:
“Moral of the story – snakes should take heed that some day those who sit by and passively watch may get tired of their antics and decide to pick up a stick.”
I replied, “There’s a reason the serpent was chosen as the form sin was offered to the world.”
I understand we’re building a fellowship of readers here, and some don’t know me or my humor well enough to grasp that I’m not suggesting you go bash a sitting US Senator with a club should you disagree. Of course not. Those who don’t understand their metaphors shouldn’t be roaming loose in society. I do, however, agree with my compatriot that if the federal government cannot resist behaving as snakes, a thump from the stick is indeed what they’ll merit and inherit.
If you don’t have a friend such as this, I highly recommend searching for one. It would be a tragedy if you lived a life without ever having thought. Our opposition avoids thinking, quite successfully I might add, at every turn. And apparently, the federal government is following suit. The number of snake-like gestures toward the Second Amendment and its advocates is on a steady incline. We’re growing tired of being the frog.
Michael Ware – IFC