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DAVIS: Why the chicken crossed the road is solved, maybe.

December 1, 2012

My wife saw two deer, one on each side of the road. Without knowing it, she solved one of the world’s age-old mysteries.
It was one of those moments when a scene plays out, but later the full depth of the incident weaves its way into our brain and that single moment becomes something much different that it appeared to be on the surface.
As she was driving home along the county road to our house, my wife saw a doe on one side of the road and a buck on the other. The deer were peeking out from behind the trees, looking at each other across the asphalt. The doe’s vision never wavered from the buck across the road. The buck looked back and forth from doe to my wife’s oncoming car.
“The poor buck was afraid to cross the street.” said Laura as she told the tale of what she had seen. “He wanted to get across the street, but he just couldn’t decide when to go. He wanted to be with his doe.”
As she told the story, I imagined a frantic look on the buck’s face as he peered across the vast expanse of roadway to his soulmate doe, her eyes all big, brown and misty. “Be strong, my darling!” the buck would say as his eyes widened with anticipation of leaping the gulf between them. “Be careful my love.” the doe would echo back.
After waiting an eternity for my wife’s car to pass, the buck would leap and clear the road in one adrenaline-laced leap of anticipation. The doe would step backward, crouching, her mouth gaped in awe of her buck’s power. The buck would land as gently as a marshmallow dropped from a skyscraper, the final exhibition of his dominance over nature. The two then disappeared into the woods to safety, their white tails flashing their path.
Then I laughed.
This was her view of what she had seen. I, on the other hand, had a completely different scenario. It goes something like this.
The two deer were at their home in the woods. The doe wanted to go for a nice walk. The buck was comfortable bedding down for his afternoon nap. “You never want to do anything with me anymore.” the doe said. “Here we go again.” thought the buck to himself. The doe continued to tell the him about how all the other bucks in the woods do things with their doe. She see them all the time at the pond getting a drink of water. When she takes the fawns out to play, all the other bucks are there standing guard. “Why don’t you do like all the other bucks?” doe asked. “They all have at least 8 point antlers. You are a 4 pointer. Why can’t you be more like them?”
“All right, all right. Give me a minute and I’ll go with you, but not too long. I’ve had a hard day of watching the squirrels jump from tree to tree.” said the buck.
The two set out on their afternoon walk. They passed the thicket where they first met. They jumped the creek where they played as little fawn. Well, she jumped. He stepped through the water. They made their way to the meadow. He imagined she saw bunny rabbits and bluebirds all around. All he saw was high grass and thorns.
Then, they came to the road. “Wait here.” he said. “I’ll go first to make sure it is safe.” The buck crossed the road safely to the other side. He looked back down the road, seeing my wife’s small car in the distance.
“Can I come across now?” the doe asked. The buck looked at his doe on the other side, then back to the approaching car. “Not yet.” said the buck. “But I miss you. It looks OK to me.” implored the doe, her vision of the road blocked by an oak tree.
“Be patient.” said the buck as his head continued to swivel from doe to car and back to doe, as if calculating time and distance.
The car approached with determined speed, thought the buck. This particular opportunity would not come along again. He continued to look back and forth, his mouth open, eyes wide and nostrils flared.
He took one last glance across the road. “Now!” he yelled to the doe.
Laura poked my shoulder. “Are you OK?” she asked. “Sure” I said, shaking my head to clear the cobwebs.
I thought about her story for a moment longer and realized the two scenarios played out in my imagination were both potentially accurate in their detail. However, being an outsider to the situation I only have a listing of facts from which an opinion could be derived. I was not one of the two players in the story so I did not have direct knowledge of what had led the two deer to the roadside, but that didn’t stop me from deciding what I felt the facts of the situation to be. It also didn’t stop me from repeating to others my version of the situation.
My imagination was probably completely off base. The two were probably just out walking around looking for food, a scenario of which my wife put forward.
So, one moment in time was interpreted many different ways and each interpretation is valid and true to the one who formulated it.
We face this scenario every day. We form opinions about what happened from a smattering of facts we get from others who form opinions from the smattering of facts they received. We then hold those words as gospel and take action or make comments based upon our perceived full and accurate information. In the end, conflicting views collide and cooperation is stalled along the roadside, just like that powerful buck. It stands there waiting for the right time to cross the road.
All we need to do is decide if cooperation is guiding others across the road to safety or into the path of an oncoming car. When we can figure this out, larger issues such as poverty, crime and the upcoming fiscal cliff will be a walk in the park.
The old question of “Why did the chicken cross the road?” now seems to be solved as well. Or is it? And, did the doe jump to safety or was she led to her demise by the command of the buck?
You decide.

Brent Davis is the managing editor of The Saline Courier. His column appears each week in the Saline Courier. He may be reached at bdavis@bentoncourier.com.

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