Thursday, February 08, 2007


When someone asked me the other day in an interview what my favourite animal was, I replied that it was a hare.
Why? I don’t know exactly. I just love hares. I love their long, lanky legs and the funny way they gallop and their long, sensitive ears. What particularly endears them to me is their strange habit of running towards me rather than away from me like most other wild animals do.
Sometimes, when I am out for my morning walk, I see a hare in the middle of the lane. I stop and wait and almost always, after a little while, the hare comes lolloping towards me. He (or she, I can’t tell the difference) will sometimes stop for a moment, look around and sniff. And then run a bit further. There have been times when, if I continue to stand still, the hare will run right past me. Other times it will change its mind and disappear into the hedge instead. But the encounter always leaves me with a special feeling of having been somehow touched by magic.
It was said at one time that witches could shape-shift into hares and back again. I have often wondered where that idea came from. Perhaps it had to do with the fact that the ‘moon hare’ was the totem of the pagan goddess of springtime, Eostre (the ‘moon-hare’ was of course the original ‘Easter bunny’ who laid eggs for good children to eat).
Be that as it may, I take a special delight in hares.And it occurred to me yesterday that the hare and I have something in common. Remember Aesop’s fable about the hare and the tortoise? Hare teased Tortoise about his short, stumpy legs, so Tortoise challenged him to a race. They set off, and of course Hare quickly pulled ahead. So far ahead, in fact, that Tortoise was soon out of sight. Hare, realising that he had plenty of time up his sleeve, decided to lie down by the roadside and have a little rest. He fell asleep, and when he woke up he realised that he had stayed too long. He raced to the finish line only to discover that Tortoise, in his slow, steady, plodding way, had beaten him to it.
Try as I may, I cannot behave like a tortoise. If I dealt with my e-mails every day, they would not pile up in my in-box. If I did a little bit of filing each day, I wouldn’t finish up with a towering, wobbly pile that threatens to engulf the whole room in an avalanche of paper and I wouldn’t have to set aside a large chunk of time to get it all tidied away. If I pulled a few weeds each afternoon, I would never need to exhaust myself by spending the entire day on a weeding marathon.
But one of the things I have learned in my 70 years on this planet is that there are some things about ourselves we need to change and there are some things that are so much a part of our basic natures that we cannot change them. The wisdom is in knowing the difference.

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