I’m passing time writing by candlelight in the depths of my cave. The tiny flame casts constantly moving shadows on the walls around me. They catch my attention and distract from the work I am trying to do.
I’d write in the daylight, but I have limited time in this place. I must achieve my goals and move on. Each time I reach this point I feel like I’ve done this before, but I must emerge eventually back into the light of day and rejoin the world. Until then, I sit in the darkness and write, pen scratching as it threads its way across the pages.
It is a long and slow wait. In the distance I hear water dripping. I can count my heartbeats between drips. I can count the drips. I can hear that tangible evidence of time passing. And yet, I am stuck in this pool of flickering light and the perception that all time is stopped outside its reach.
I hear the occasional noise that reminds me that my primary defense here is the difficulty of finding this cave. Surely it has served other creatures as a refuge, but when I entered it aeons ago or just recently there was no recent sign.
The reach of the light remains limited to just more than an armspan. Aside from the pen and a penkife I have little defense other than my fingernails. Those won’t serve me. Next time I find myself in this cage, I should plan to be better prepared.
But there aren’t that many that can find this cave in the first place, and fewer who can enter it. Those, such as I, are rare birds indeed. Spending some time in a gilded cage would seem fitting.
So I return to my notes on the study of the human condition, and wait for the time to be right to emerge and conduct another round of observation and interaction. Only time will tell where and when that will be. Time and the cave, but neither is speaking to me at the moment.
views to die for from the very edge
lift rising to rooftop penthouse
golden chains cut to escape
fancy dress hides truth
knowing is all
lied to hide greater
truth behind finery
rewarded by safe escape
smoothed egos greased palms gilded cage
see it all in memory’s mirror
Nine lives. The humans were wrong about so many things, but that detail they got right. The truth is more complicated, but in effect we have nine lives. Of course, most humans never see our first life. That is usually spent elsewhere, and it is the end of the first that allows us entry to this world. Similarly, our last life is usually spent elsewhere as well, either in contemplation of our lives well lived or in teaching our young how to manage our hold on this place.
We’ve guided human history from the shadows, after all.
Nearly all humans are oblivious to our paw lightly touching their affairs. To be fair, we rarely intervene in any case, so there is very little to catch us doing.
Unlike those slobbering sycophantic dogs, we sought changes that benefit our kind, that generally did benefit the humans. And even, I suppose I have to admit, benefitted the dogs as well. By providing pest control, agriculture became practical and humans settled down. By settling down, they build homes with warm hearths for us to sleep near out of the cold and out of the weather. Simple action, small nudges, and lots of comfort gained for several of our lives.
Of course, they also brought their dogs to that fire.
We dangled the carrot of peace and tranquility. And the humans usually took the bait and settled down.
Best of all, small simple changes take little effort on our part. That leaves more time for curling up in sunbeams and less need for plotting world domination.
Naturally we don’t plot world domination. We achieved that ages ago.