The past couple weeks have felt overwhelming. I'm changing my perspective by changing the questions I'm asking.
At the end of last week, we discovered our rabbits Chestnut and Walnut had become parents. We were out doing some farm management (aka mowing and edging the grass) when Bonnie the dog started acting weird(er than normal). Noah went to see what she was bouncing around about and found a tiny baby rabbit in the grass.
Guys, the whole family went bananas with glee.
Baby Coconut was more than three days old and less than ten days: he had fur, but his eyes still weren't opened. "With all the horrible things going on in the world, here we are with a baby bunny being born in our backyard," is something I actually said to Walnut's former owners, who came over to see the new arrival.
The day after I said those words, I was sitting in the goat shed weeping with a dead baby Coconut in my hand. And that, friends, sums it up.
The Back Story
What happened to Coconut was a tragic accident. The little cousins had just arrived at my house. In fact, they were already in the driveway when I pulled in with my own two kids and a trunk full of groceries. The kids were running around, asking for food, getting in the way. My father-in-law, who had brought the cousins, was talking to me about some troubling extended family problems. I was frazzled, and I told the kids to go out and check on Coconut.
He wasn't in the nest box, so they opened the front door of the hutch. The goats pushed their way in to get at the rabbit food, and they trampled baby Coconut.
I was so angry. Why couldn't the goats just stay out of the way? Why did the kids open the main door without me? After I'd warned them not to! But mostly, why did I tell them to go out and check on the rabbits on their own? Why was I so stupidly, dismally careless?
I called Noah at work, in a rage, holding this dead infant rabbit on whom we had already placed so much hope, the kids all yelling and crying around me. The conversation started with my anger but ended with me sitting in the goat shed and weeping. Like, literally.
It's just too much.Who's with me on that?
My objective for this blog is to help others Think Big, Live Small. I've written before that the one is the solution to the problem of the other. When the big problems of the world become too heavy, we can regain some composure by retreating into our small corners and living out a better life that reflects our ethics.
The real sucker punch is, that's what I thought I was doing.
The Wrong Questions
I've been writing down thoughts on all these horrible things that have been happening, the past few weeks an apparent microcosm of everything that's going wrong in the world. Orlando, Baton Rouge, Minneapolis, Dallas, Nice, Baton Rouge again. That one little rabbit, the first live birth on Etheridge Farms, represented Living Small at its very best to me: a microcosm for everything that's going right in the world.
And then as if on cue that little, fragile symbol was trampled...by what? My negligence? The kids not paying attention to what I've told them before? The self-interested, hungry little goats that don't have the awareness to know what they did? Or was it just a horrific, unavoidable, stupid accident?
These are the things I was thinking as we buried Coconut beside the Carolina jasmine vine next to the pool. Noah had dug a small grave for him; Oliver jumped in and out of it while Ethan and I said our goodbyes. I lay Coconut on top of a paper towel in the ground, Ethan sprinkled some hay over him, and as we stood to say a few words, Oliver shouted "Bye Tokanut!" and immediately began shoveling in dirt.
Later he solemnly explained to my dad, "Poppy, Tokanut the baby bunny died because the doats stepped on him and he got flat."
His innocent absurdity brought me back.
The Right Questions...or at least, better ones
Humor is my trademark. It's my pressure-release valve. It's how I stay afloat as a person with a tendency to be highly sensitive, a Think Big-ist if ever there was one. In fact, I've been working on a podcast that requires a huge emotional investment from my interviewees as well as from me, as I try to honor their stories.
Over the course of these next few weeks, I'm not going to hesitate to talk about these big, massive, unwieldy things. The humor will likely still find its way in, especially if Oliver is involved, but I'm not going to make it a prerequisite.
Difficult conversations become arguments when we don't ask the right questions.
I'm going to pose some difficult questions—different questions than the ones most people are asking. Here are some examples:
Old Question: Doesn't Black Lives Matter promote division by being exclusive to one group?
New Question: What if the things they're saying about racism are right?
Old Question: Don't we agree that not all cops are bad?
Old Question: What can we do to make people feel safer?
New Question: What can we do to understand each other's fears?
These and more are things I've been asking myself, and I'm going to invite you to ask yourself those same questions. I'm going to delve into the newer, more challenging questions, and I'm going to ask you to share your thoughts and feelings with me in turn.
I hope you'll stick around, read along, think along, and respond.
Before we can find answers, let's figure out how to ask the right kind of questions together.
P.S. Here's a tip: If you click Like on my Facebook page, hover over the little arrow right next to it. When the menu appears, click "See first." That way whenever I post to the blog, it'll appear at the top of your Facebook feed, so you won't miss one.