Of Mice and Men Moments

Personal Thoughts, Poetry

Sometimes a day does not go as planned. We’ve all had them. The car won’t start; we slip on ice; co-worker calls in; friends cancel; kids get sick. We can meticulously plan our days or even years and then something happens to disrupt those well-laid ideas.

On a November day, poet Robert Burns disrupted a field mouse. The little mouse had laid up all he needed for winter in his little house, but when Burns’ plow went through the fields, it destroyed the mouse’s home. Mr. Burns turned this event into a contemplative poem entitled, “To a Mouse”.

Burns’ Scottish brogue can be challenge to understand at times, but the gist of his poem compares us humans to the little mouse. The mouse set up plans just like we do. Then something disrupted it. And just like the mouse ran away, chattering insults at Burns, we tend to get upset at those things that disrupt our plans.

Flexibility is not an easy trait. Perhaps it is more easy at some times than at other times, such as when the plans disrupted are ones we do not care so much about. But when we’ve laid up dreams and hopes on an event and those get up-ended, it’s much harder to avoid to the pain.

What is Burns’ conclusion to this plight? He actually admits to the mouse that he envies the little guy. The mouse lives in the present. Us humans are bound by our past and fearful of the future. I love what Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said: “Look not mournfully into the past. It comes not back again. Wisely improve the present. It is thine. Go forth to meet the shadowy future, without fear.”

Whether today turns out as you planned it or is upended by an unexpected plowshare, may the twists and turns of life not bind you with fear but free you to boldly step into the unknown future.

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