CarolAnn and I recently cleaned the tool shed out back and evicted three rats in the process. We went to Lowe’s to get rat traps but disagreed on what kind to get. I wanted a quick kill. She wanted the kind that would stick to a rat’s feet and hold them until we could throw them in the trash because, as she rightly reminded me, the snap traps don’t always work. The rats are wily, they grab the bait and make a clean getaway. The sticky traps are a certain though torturous death sentence.
In the end my emotional sensitivity won out. She loves that about me, though she doesn’t agree. We didn’t buy either. I guess I’ll have to depend on the dogs to solve the problem.
When I was a boy my dad used to take me fishing but it upset me to hook a fish, yank it out of its home and eat it. Once Dad took me rabbit hunting in Wyoming because that’s what he did when he was my age growing up in Wyoming. He gave me a rifle, we found rabbits and I intentionally fired to miss.
I can’t face the idea of killing a creature just because it wandered into our garage or even our home. I don’t like rats or spiders but I also don’t see that I have a right to kill them. I told CarolAnn, who comes from a family of hunters, that this extreme sensitivity comes from my childhood when I fired a slingshot at a bird on a fence. I actually killed the thing, I told her. It destroyed me.
Now I doubt it happened.
Research has proven than human memories are highly fluid. The events we remember as sure as we know our names are actually reconstructed from bits and pieces of actual experience mixed with impressions from any number of sources pieced together by our emotions and imaginations. (For more fascinating insight, see the link at the bottom of this post.)
Lately I’ve been binge watching the old Andy Griffith show from my childhood and I came across this powerful scene.
I suddenly doubt that I actually killed a bird with my slingshot. I think I’ve been channeling Opie for 60 years.
Doesn’t matter. It’s why I stopped fishing decades ago. I’m not going to start again now. I still won’t torture a rat simply because it wandered into our declared space. I’ll continue to carry spiders outside on a piece of paper.
Yes, I’m a hypocrite but I’m not sorry or embarrassed. I love eating meat and fish; I have no problem with hunters and people who fish. I just can’t do it myself.
Opie’s pain is mine.
If the uncertainty of memory interests you, I strongly recommend listening to this podcast by Malcolm Gladwell. It will change your view of your own life and the world in which we live: http://revisionisthistory.com/episodes/24-free-brian-williams