Mice. Little creatures that move in silence wherever they please. Behind walls, in the loft, the garage, the kitchen cupboards, and upstairs among the frocks and heels. I don’t mind living alongside them, for they inspire me, as well as infuriating me when I discover holes in the bottom of my suitcase. I even discovered, once, a jacket in shreds, one that hangs in the garage, a waterproof. I wonder what that tasted like? Oil, general grub, fish scales, garden earth and yummy plastic. I don’t suppose they actually swallow, but they might.
Sometimes I hear them scurrying about over my head, in the loft. I think, wistfully, of all those boxes of books up there losing words, perhaps whole sentences to those determined little teeth. Does that mean the words are gone forever or does the mouse learn something new as he or she ingests their wisdom and guidance? I can’t remember what books are up there anyroad. Old ones, leather bound, tales of pioneers and flower arrangers and naughty rebels who broke rules and found new lands when the world insisted it stopped on the shore of the Barents Sea.
Inside the drystone wall that tells the neighbour where he ends and we begin, there is a family or two. I see them hurtle out from the smallest of cracks to pinch the bird seed from a feeder. The hunter/gatherer will leap onto the perch, it’s little back legs swinging free whilst the other end of it grabs a bite. It drops down, pouch full, and disappears back into the stonework. A field mouse. Not a house mouse, although I am unsure of the difference. It smiles me, watching wild Nature go about her endless routine. There will be new blind babies down there among the old granite, hungry and trusting. Good luck, I whisper, for their life is so precarious. Buzzards, sparrowhawks, merlins, kestrels and goshawks are always hiding somewhere, watching and waiting with hungry babies, back home and trusting.
Mice think me of power. That may sound silly but the impact they can make, in absolute silence, is astonishing. We tend to think that bigger is better, but I disagree. It is the little things that make the most impact, little things and the repetition of those little things that can change darkness into light. It is easy to throw money at a problem, if you have it to throw, and so much harder to believe that a little thing will make any difference at all. What little thing can I do, today, right now? I look at my problem, whatever it is, and it is the size of Russia. How can my little thing make any change to it?
We are not mice. We do not scurry and hide or eat suitcases or jackets. Most of us, anyway. We are humans with agile brains and we can choose our thoughts. This Russia sized problem looks forbidding, menacing, overwhelming, like it could darken us for ever, eat us up, take us over and yet it can never do that, not if we choose our thoughts. If a mouse gave up on pinching bird seed because the bird feeder was empty or gone, with a hungry family waiting at home, it would immediately go in search of an alternative, such as my soft pumps or a few more words from the loft. We, on the other hand, sit down and burst into tears, as if our problem is insurmountable #theend. It isn’t. It never was and it never will be. Everyone has a Russia sized problem at some point in their lives. Everyone faces shockhorrors along their path. Everyone is let down, let go, everyone. Those who think ‘mouse’ keep moving, keep looking because on the other side of us, there is light, if only we would turn around. The power in any set of circumstances lies in the little things, the tiny steps, over and over until those little things grow into something wonderful and warm and radiant with hope.
And everyone can do a little thing.