Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The tunneling vole

I startled a little vole this morning, and it scrambled to hide itself in the fallen leaves. A rustling trail above it revealed its escape route as it tunneled away. Watching it, I felt a pang of sympathy. Seems like a tough break, being born a vole. A vole's life is one long horror movie of being pursued and eaten. There's not much in the way of compensation for that curse. Maybe voles have delightful social lives, or they spend their unharassed hours engaged in deep philosophical inquiry, but somehow I doubt it. A vole's pleasures, assuming voles feel pleasure, consist of little more than eating and fucking.

It's an awfully limited life from a human point of view--and yet, the little critters cling to it ferociously. They use up most of their energy and all their intelligence struggling to survive, even though they are doomed. That's the ironic miracle of life. Individual beings are so fragile, their existence destroyed and forgotten from one day to the next, but the instinct to stay alive and perpetuate life never wavers. Without faith or aspiration, or even any awareness of a future, they continually seek the next moment.

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