Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More


Freed Like A Fox

Cowboy Cottage, East Napa, California, USA

June 20, 2010



This essay, Freed Like A Fox, is the sixth in the septology Menagerie: I am indebted to Grethe-Maria Fox who inspired this conversation.



I've seen her before - many times. I recognize her. I know who she is. Writing Conversations For Transformation in the Cowboy Cottage sitting at my table gazing through the picture window onto the cattle pasture, I see her appearing out of nowhere, walking deliberately, stealthily, her head close to the ground. I assume she's tracking scents of her prey: gophers, mice, rabbits, whatever she can make a meal of. The property owner's cats strolling into the pasture stay out of her way when she's around. Very smart.

I never try to approach her. I prefer to simply watch her. The last thing I want to do is disturb her and then she'll run off. So I remain silent and motionless when she comes by, honoring her visit and the privilege she affords me by coming here, by being close to me and by allowing me to be close to her.

When she sees me she stops and looks directly into my eyes, unblinking. She puts every bit of her attention into her stare, every ounce of her energy into her presence. When she looks into my eyes like this, it's as if the entire pasture  itself is looking into my eyes. No, when she looks into my eyes like this, it's as if the entire universe  is looking into my eyes.

And now here she is, caught unceremoniously in this raccoon trap. If anything looks out of place, a fox in a raccoon trap is the epitome of what looks out of place. A family of raccoons has decimated the fish population in the pond. In order to trap the miscreant raccoons so they may be safely transported away from the area, traps are baited with pet food. An unsuspecting raccoon enters a trap typically at night, irreversibly closing its door in the process. Only this time, it's not a raccoon lured by the bait - it's her.

Who knows why. Perhaps the gophers hear her coming and bolt. Perhaps the mice hear her too and quickly put out the word to all the other rodent field dwellers, telling them to hide. Perhaps the rabbits drum a tap-tap  code on the walls of their warrens which sends a warning when their sentry sees her on the prowl. However the alarm is sounded, her element of surprise is lost. All of her usual sources of dinner have gotten out of her way, underground if possible, so the lure of the bait in the trap gets the better of her natural sense of self preservation and survival, and she throws caution to the wind. Now she's incongruously enclosed in a mesh cage not much larger than her body. She's unable to turn around, unable to escape, yet much to my relief she's completely unharmed.

As I approach she bares her razor sharp teeth. There's not one iota  of doubt in my mind about the threat of her grimace. She speaks to me in a feral tongue comprising growl  and hiss. I don't need an interpreter who can translate Fox  to tell me she's saying "If you so much as lay a finger on me I'll rip your flesh off.".

Obliging her I keep my distance, yet continue watching her, touched by all her glorious wildness - spellbound, fascinated.

There's nothing which wants and needs doing more in this moment than setting her free. The door of the trap opens with a simple latch that only works from the outside. The mesh of the trap is small enough to prevent her biting any fingers reaching over to spring the latch. Although she continues to loudly threaten shredded flesh to anyone who comes near, there's actually nothing to be concerned about, given how well enclosed she is. Yet I already know she's more concerned with getting out of her predicament than she is with drawing blood.

That turns out to be an understatement. As soon as the trap door opens, she flies  out of there and heads at speed as far away from the trap as she can get, kicking up dust as her frantic feet tear across the pasture to freedom. Then, just as she's about to disappear over the crest of the hill, inexplicably she stops in her tracks, turns around, sits up on her haunches, and looks into my eyes one last time. No, the entire universe looks into my eyes one last time.

And then she's gone, and I'm left standing here, still spellbound, still fascinated, the trap now lying askew on its side, knocked over by the force of her exit, empty.

Some time soon on a hot sultry summer evening when I'm writing Conversations For Transformation here in the Cowboy Cottage, sitting at my table gazing through the picture window onto the cattle pasture, she'll appear again out of nowhere, walking deliberately, stealthily, her head close to the ground. Then she'll stop and stand stock still, looking into my eyes, the entire universe looking into my eyes.

She'll be back.



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