I spied an unusual site while driving this morning. There, on the side of the bustling interstate (the stretch of I-85 voted each year as one of the most dangerous highways in the country), was a beaver that was not yet dead. That is to say the beaver had not been struck by an automobile and was very much alive - so far. He was just standing there, inches away from the roaring traffic, having a chaw on something.
Now, because I am prone to symbolic thinking - a holdover from my "mystical," pothead youth - I tend to look for metaphors in my surroundings. After all, random occurrences surely MUST have some significance to my personal life. Why else would I bother to observe them at all? A living beaver on the side of the interstate should be designated as a good or a bad sign, metaphorically speaking.
But which is it? Either it fills me with optimism that this beaver, who could very well symbolize my hope for the survival of all humanity (or else my hope that eBay has some choice action figures available today), lives in spite of the danger before him, or it fills me with dread to assume that the beaver is only seconds away from an annihilating squish. This is, of course, the sort of sooth-saying, animus schizophrenia that gave us Groundhog Day.
Ultimately, I find myself greatly irritated that I’ve been presented with this cosmic conundrum in the first place. I was happily contemplating the emptiness of my existence before this symbolic vision appeared. Look, sometimes people are just trying to cope with the dull materialism of life – the gas tanks that need filling, the phone sex bills that need paying, the meth jones that needs fixing. We don’t necessarily have the time or patience for some mystical vision delivering a proclamation for the future of human consciousness. Imagine how irritated an Eskimo Shaman is when he wants a day off. Poor bastard just wants to eat snow cones and watch Wheel of Fortune, but no – The Great Walrus Spirit won’t shut up about the blubber harvest.
Can’t a guy go about his business without some synchronistic beaver being shoved in his face? I was doing just fine thinking about how much I like pie before this Jungian rodent wandered into view and demanded I acknowledge the significance of his not-yet-deadness. Now I’m forced to ponder whether a beaver surviving in the face of steel-belted radial death should dictate the mood of my day, or indeed, my outlook for humanity’s fortunes – like some bad TV script where the voodoo priestess (Nell Carter) has predicted doom for the selfish corporate executive (Ben Gazzara), and he laughs it off until he starts having visions of his dead father (Gabe Kaplan – always cast Gabe Kaplan), who ran the business with a decidedly different moral code.
Well, I’m not going to let some vision in the chicken bones or dead daddy dictate my thinking just so that Tales from the Crypt puppet can have the last laugh. I hate that puppet. And I hate that damn beaver.
If he’s still there when I go home, I’m running his ass over.