Fence Rats and Monkey Traps

The other side of the back property line where we live has what we lovingly refer to as a fence rat — a cute little dog who sticks his head under the fence and yaps every time I come or go. I tried to make friends by giving him dog biscuits. Len’s afraid his collar’s going to get caught on the bottom of the fence and he’ll be stuck there until someone comes to his rescue. “Greedy little bugger!” (referring to the dog), “See what you started?” (referring to me).

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The neighboring dog reminds me of the monkey traps described in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where certain tribes leverage the monkeys’ greed to their advantage. They hollow out a gourd, leaving the opening just large enough for a monkey’s hand to go through to reach a sweet treat. When the monkey (unaware that the vine attached to the gourd is staked to the ground out of sight) reaches in to get the treat, the opening is too small for its now-clenched fist to pass back through. Escape is entirely possible if he’ll just let go, but he won’t because he chooses to hang on to the treat. At this point the tribespeople come along and it’s easy pickings…

What won’t you let go of?

© Laurie Buchanan

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