6400: Embrace the Rat

May 10, 2020
By Grant Lindsley

Embrace the Rat

The other day, I was warming up at McCarren track for yet another solitary workout when a red-tailed hawk glided overhead. Not the first time I’ve seen them there – they come and go from twiggy nests on top of the field lights – but this time, the silhouette looked different. It had something big in its talons with four distinct legs and a long dangling tail. 

A rat.

For a moment, I was captivated. A glimpse into a live episode of Planet Earth. But as the hawk settled into its nest and out of view, I was ambushed by symbolism. I was the rat. I am the rat. Trapped. Quarantined.

I sighed. The still, gray morning became still and gray again. I returned to lunges and sulking skips. 

I’m ready to start playing ultimate again. I’m ready to high-five teammates. The word quarantine comes from Italian quaranta, a period of 40 days. As of writing, my own quarantine is 54 days and counting. I’m ready for this to be over.

But, it’s not over, and none of the experts on the news apps I check too often seem to know when it will be. So, what to do?

A better question might be, what not to do? For one, I’m trying to avoid wrestling these circumstances into a new metaphor – something like, “be the hawk.” Don’t just survive, thrive! Early on, I thought I might sell a memoir during quarantine. It’s not happening.

I’ve long dreamed of healthy rituals and, for just as long, failed to set them in motion. If I had a nickel for every time I told myself to get up at 6:00am or recommit to meditation, then I’d have another couple stimulus checks worth of disappointment. The drive to thrive, no matter how well-intentioned, can sometimes lead to more harm than help.

If I do get up early and run, then I allow for a nap in the afternoon. If I’m sore or the weather is gross, I’ll stay in an do yoga with Adrienne, maybe at 1.25x playback speed. A mentor of mine used to say, “Don’t let perfect get in the way of good enough.” The phrase seems to apply now, as so many of us nonessential workers face ourselves day after day in this structureless confinement.

The mind can play tricks. Big dreams can become obstacles. Low expectations, on the other hand, can help you get going.

Reconsider the rat. They’re survival specialists. They can go longer than a camel without a drink. They can live after being flushed down a toilet. They can tread water for three days.

In other words, forget the hawk. Embrace the rat.

For more fun rat facts, click here