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free range mouse

June 2, 2010

Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins

“They makes cages in all sizes and shapes, you know.
Bank-shaped, some of ’em, carpets and all.”
-Burt, from Mary Poppins

We have a mouse.  A free range mouse. Her name is Star and I have to admit up front that I have soft spot for her.

She came from the pet shop – my wife chose her and brought her home. When she was young we found that the cage she lives in could not hold her. She was small and so could come and go as she pleased. Star would run around outside her cage and, at least initially, she would run back inside the cage when we approached. Over time we reached an agreement. She would stay in one place long enough for us to grab something nice from the kitchen and give it to her. Then she would run back behind the cage and enjoy whatever tidbit we had provided.

We were worried at first that she would decide to take her leave of the cage and of us but every morning we would find her back ‘safe’ inside.

Every weekend the kids would clean her cage and in the process take away the nest that she had spent her days creating. During the day she would run in the wheel, stop to eat or drink and, depending on what day it was, get to work rebuilding her nest. At night after the kids would go to bed she felt free to come out of the cage and explore the world.

And so the cycle continued.

On Sundays the cage would be cleaned and Star would get to work and spend days busy building a nest, running in the wheel, eating, sleeping. During the night she would leave the cage and charm treats out of us. Every morning we would find her back inside the cage we provided for her.

Then we started to notice that getting back into the cage didn’t seem to be so easy for Star. She was growing up and growing bigger – helped no doubt by our late night rewards.

Star hasn’t been out of the cage for a while now. She is older. She has food and water delivered a couple of times a week. From Sunday afternoon through to Wednesday she works at rebuilding her nest. She runs in her wheel and has other things that seem to occupy her time. I am not sure that she watches but she has a clear view of the TV as well, and for her it is VERY big screen TV!

Thinking about the zoos and animal parks I have visited I know that cages can come in all different shapes and sizes. There are different types of cages too, some that are so well designed you wonder whether the inhabitants are even aware of them.

But I think this is different. To me it seems that Star knows she is in a cage. She has chosen security over freedom and I don’t really understand why. I suppose it might be all that she has ever known – she has been in a cage of sorts since the day she was born. Perhaps I should be surprised that she ever came out of the cage at all? I mean why would she? She has a place to live, a huge TV, food and water, other people who create work for her to do each week and her own gym! Maybe she feels freedom seems to be a small price to pay for all of that?

I don’t know but I am glad that it is a decision I will never have to make …


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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Sandie permalink
    June 2, 2010 9:57 pm

    Some people would say that you have already made the choice to live in the ‘cage’ of society.

  2. June 4, 2010 7:40 am

    Star knew she was in the right place … she felt happy and safe – no need to ever leave!

  3. Megan permalink
    June 5, 2010 2:45 pm

    I hope that nothing less is thought of those that choose comfort over freedom. Sometimes comfort is what you need and I imagine that if she (or we) changed her mind that she would remember what it takes to be free once more.

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