My daughter, Sophia, still views the world through the impressionable eyes of an innocent child. She believes most everything is wonderful, marvelous, pure, and good. I love that about her, and wish I had a bit more of that in myself. I've been cynical for as long as I can remember. This isn't necessarily a bad personality trait because it can help me spot a sketchy situation or prevent me from spending my entire paycheck on various gadgets and devices as seen on TV. However, it also stops me from enjoying most TV and movies, believing a lot of feel-good stories, and trusting those I do not already trust. Perhaps there is a delicate balance between complete abandonment of skepticism and my sometimes absurd obsession with the logical.
A prime example of my tendency to over analyze things represents itself with this at first seemingly precious pair of animal friends.
I saw the image on a news site. I didn't read the caption or follow the link. I did see the headline which read something like "Weasel Catches a Ride With Woodpecker Friend" and immediately thought to myself "No. No he doesn't. Those two are not not friends." I imagine many people, Sophia included, would have quivered in Disney or Pixar laden delight at that sweet headline and immediately began concocting a fantastical adventure story in a magical land where mammals and birds form friendship bonds and spend afternoons soaring above the tree-line whilst singing an Idina Menzel hit. My tendency to seek out the logical squashed any bit of fantasy from the photo. I knew it was a dangerous situation. I recognized the terror in that poor woodpecker's beady eyes. I sensed the sheer desperation of the weasel's carnivorous clutch. This was no friendship flight. This was simply a hungry predator, its prey, and a well-timed snap of some hiker's smartphone camera.
I eventually followed the link to see if my cynicism was accurate. Part of me hoped that I was wrong. If I was, I would have shown the picture to Sophia and drank in her enthusiastic innocence and delight at the sight of friendship in the animal kingdom. However, I won't be showing the photo to Sophia because as it turns out, there is no story here. It is merely photographic documentation of a food chain in action.
Every experience in life offers a lesson if we are just willing to take it. I was a bit disappointed to discover I was "right" about the woodpecker and his weasel. What is the lesson here? Is the lesson for those of us who lack imagination and quickly grasp at the logic of every situation? Are we supposed to perhaps suspend our disbelief for moments here and there so that we can have an occasional retreat from the realities of life? Do I need to try harder to be less realistic? Should I sometimes make myself look away? Or, is the lesson for the other side? Should more people pause before assuming that everything is as it seems at first glance? Should Sophia and those like her take a second look? Perhaps it is a lesson for both. Maybe I should show Sophia this picture and ask her what she thinks their story is, and for a moment bask in the delight of her imagination.
I suppose you and I cannot do that with the picture above because I've exposed the harsh reality of the image. Surely it has gone viral by now and I didn't ruin anybody's day with my exposé. Instead, let's have some unimpeded fantasy with this picture:
I did read the headline for this as well as the caption! I'll tell you the premise and you make up your own Disney storyline. No logic. No science. No nature. Only pure fantasy is allowed. This little girl has been feeding the neighborhood crows. The crows have been leaving her various trinkets in exchange for the food. Now tell me the most delightful story and I promise not to analyze it or bring any logic to your adventure. Pen your fairytale in the comments section below.