The more I learn about rats, the more i want to like them. They are freaking BRILLIANT. Screw chimpanzees (monkey eating monsters that they are), forget about the gorillas (i dont mind gorillas per se, but lets face it. Intellectually, the gorilla is no rat). Its rats. According to those who know, pet rats are friendly, lovable, clean, smart and gentle. They are the ultimate pet. In some cultures rats are seen as sacred. They are thought to hold souls of those who’ve passed (I think). I embrace this rat reverence wholeheartedly. There is only one small problem.
RATS SCARE THE HELL OUT OF ME. I mean they HORRIFY me. And I am ashamed. Why must they be so appalling to me? Cognitively, I understand that rats did not cause the black plague. To be honest, I only have a vague idea of what the black plague is anyway. And Im not afraid of fleas. (I mean i dont want them or anything but they don’t have what i like to call “the cootie effect” on me physiologically) So rats go through garbage looking for food. Dare I judge? I was actually physically inside a dumpster once many years ago pulling out discarded belongings left by a wealthy but frivolous woman. It was not my proudest moment but i still have a pair of sandals from that long ago foraging expedition.
I just stared at the screen debating whether I should share this next part but Ill tell you friends. This post is about healing. I need to be honest here. Because accepting that I have a problem is the first step to overcoming it right? You may find me repulsive after this. So be it. Go with God.
Sometimes? If I really dont want to eat something completely tasty but really bad for me, I spray it with windex after i put it in the trash. Because I am afraid I would be too tempted to pull it out and eat it. Who am I kidding sometimes? Ive been doing this my whole adult life. Ive been doing it so long that while I dont have any distinct memory of pulling food from the garbage, I obviously must have done or considered it at some point or there would be no need for windex. Dont judge me people. Im trying to build bridges here.
At this point in time, I cannot imagine getting past my revulsion. (And we ask ourselves, is it not a reflection of my own self-loathing? Perhaps….Perhaps) Thanks to everyone from the promoters of junk science to george orwell to the creepy acrobatic rat that appeared in the dumpster behind “the bar” many years ago (the same rat to whom I attribute the onset of my life defining existential crisis) I am scarred by the rat-hating culture that is the curse of my generation. I dont know if I can move past this. And I am ashamed.
Why do I tell you this friends? Because tonight friends? Tonight I took my boy to a movie and together we cried over the pain of a crazy little rat trying to make it in the big city. (ok I cried. He may have missed the deeper message of the film, but we were definitely together. Sharing popcorn.) My xenophobic speciesism needs to be crushed in the name of truth. I need to look deeply into my inner rat and learn to love and celebrate it.
Right now, it doesnt seem possible to move past this. But friends, last week I ate an onion**. A raw onion. And Im still here.
Yes, I ate a raw onion. And now I know that nothing is beyond my reach.
* I found the rat cartoon here. And I give my humble thanks.
** it has come to my attention that the phrase “ate a raw onion” implies that I ate a whole onion. In actuality I ate a small ring, a strand if you will. It was about the size of a nickel around. One Small Strand of Onion. One Giant Step for crse