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Ask An Author: Mouse or an Elephant?

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Sahar's Blog Ask an AuthorA seemingly silly question can be surprisingly insightful, as our authors found out this week. This week’s feature was inspired by a conversation with a reader, who wondered what the spectrum of answers would be to the question: elephant or mouse? Choose one and explain why.

Lee Murray

I am a mouse. No doubt about it. Mostly, I’m too timid to say no, and since I’m an editor as well as a writer, I’m often asked to help out. ‘Could you just have a quick read of this?’ and ‘the submission deadline is tomorrow’, that sort of thing. I don’t always mind – after all, I get to read some great work from some very talented writers before anyone else does – but occasionally it means my own writing suffers. Some days, a thicker hide and tusks would be nice. Okay, so I’m a mouse who aspires to being an elephant: impressive, with a solid base, and my new releases trumpeted to the world…

Karo Oforofuo

My answer is elephant. I choose elephant because it is 1. Big: Its size dominates and it can easily squash any animal that tries to attack it. 2. Humble: Although the elephant is big and powerful, it is humble. It doesn’t go around harassing other animals. 3. The elephant is a Vegetarian: I am a vegetarian too. So I love animals that don’t eat meat.

J. C. Hart

This question is harder than it seems on first glance! Am I choosing which I’d rather be? Which one I’d rather have as a pet? Which I like more? Both have good and bad qualities, but I think I’m going to have to go for mouse. They are small and quiet. Clever and focused.

Lorene Stunson Hill

I choose the elephant. I have conflict in my family and the elephant and mouse represents what is going on between disputing people that isn’t being said. The elephant and mouse are the lingering doubts and the nagging feelings – the proverbial elephant in the room is the conflict and the proverbial mouse haunts your heart and brain scurrying around inserting itself into the crevices. I choose to get rid of the mouse, although humiliated by the haters, I became liberated and determined that someone’s opinion of me did not have to become my reality. I was going to get my life back and I found an escape that became rich and rewarding, I wrote my first book, “To Dance with Ugly People”. I can’t get rid of the Elephant because the conflict still exists today, but I remain in my own “peace.”

Angela Barry

Elephant or mouse?  Mouse!  Elephants are said to be “afraid” of mice.  No matter what the reason, they really do try to step around them.

Also, there is a tale of the Pharaoh Sethos/Tarharqa/Tirhakah who was a more peaceful sort, given to supporting commerce and art.  As such he worshiped Ptah. A great army was preparing to attack and he had few soldiers to fight with.  His people were farmers and craftsmen and merchants.  So he went to the Temple of Ptah to pray and fell asleep asking for deliverance.  In the dream, Ptah told him to arm his people and have them attack for he would send divine aid to help them win.  In the morning when he awoke, the Pharaoh assembled his people and had them charge the enemy with what tools and weapons they had.

During the night, thousands of field mice had come into the enemy camp and chewed through the leather straps of their armor, bit through bow strings, and chewed off the leather hand grips of their swords.  They were unable to respond to the charging workmen and fled.  Afterward, the Pharaoh commissioned a statue of himself holding a mouse with the inscription “Look on me, and learn to reverence the gods”.  Such a cool story.  So definitely mouse!

Sybil Watters

Mouse. I can eat, sleep and poop wherever I want and death will most certainly be swift. Plus I’m Swiss, so I am easily amused by cheese.

Lynn Voedisch

I choose the elephant because it is an animal of many talents. Many people don’t know how intelligent the elephant is. Only a few mammals have proven to be self-aware in the much-touted “mirror test.” Animals are marked with paint or some other substance and then are placed before a mirror. Only a self-aware animal will recognize itself and then will attempt to rub off the marking. Besides elephants, only the great apes and porpoises have passed this test (dolphins swim by the mirror and try to rub off the mark on the side of their pool).

Elephants have also learned how to recognize poachers who come to hunt their for their ivory tusks. In one notable case, a group of male elephants recognized poachers (with their guns) and stomped them to death, then went to get the wildlife refuge workers, and showed no hostility at all to the workers. Yay, elephants! Stomp those poachers!

Meryl Stenhouse

Consider the mouse.
On first approach, the flitting
whiskered thing
short lived, with toothpick bones
owl and cat and snake,
and man, with his springs and snaps,
crunch and crush,
tiny bloodless body
nobody loves.

And yet
the mouse can go
to secret places, can go
behind the walls,
under the doors,
smaller than memory
barely a thought
a wish, flickering, dashing,
from the room
from your mind

Consider the elephant,
lumbering, noble beast
visible and beloved
Let us protect them
Their weight
solemn and slow
your thoughts
your dreams
peace and contentment
as long
as they are there.
They exist
in your vision
in your mind
consuming memory
shaping thought
with the elephant in view
what need for change?

So who would love a mouse?
Many of us do.
Those who love
small moments
tiny joys
seditious thoughts
in the night.
The mouse
like the thought
is revolution,
raising tiny fingers
to the sturdy walls
the closed doors
that we build
from elephant skin.

Image credit: Chad Mauger.

4.50 avg. rating (92% score) - 2 votes

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