Deer Mouse Squeaks

My earliest memories are vague, as if I were in a hazy dream. I spent the first days of my life blind, Description: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_tnZEKUGN87A/SnIDmklM0iI/AAAAAAAAB9M/nxhDpCiD1Jk/s400/baby+deer+mouse.jpgsurrounded by my five brothers and sisters, with our mother hovering over us to keep our tiny naked bodies warm.[[1]] I remember the comfort of the nest Mother made, lined with shredded grass, fur, and feathers.[[2]] In the nest, under Mother’s body, the world felt safe and cozy. I had little idea how wrong I was.

Text Box: My kind is completely helpless as newborns. 


[i]

 

[ii]

 
I don’t know how long I was without sight, but Mother says it was about two weeks. At around the same time, my hairless, pink skin began to sprout soft fur; my “plump, round belly was white,” while the “rest of [my] fur was orange-brown.”[[3]] If I looked anything like my siblings, I had “large ears and dark, almost round eyes, full of whiskers, tiny nose, pink toes and tail.” [[4]] My siblings and I quickly grew too big for Mother to hover over us, so we began to venture out into the world.

Text Box: Mother cares for us by nursing us and keeping us warm.Description: http://funkman.org/animal/mammal/deermouse.jpgWe lived under the protective cloak of nighttime. We are but small creatures, and the night hides us from the mice-eaters. Our large ears and eyes, along with our sensitive noses, are our only defense against them. It was only after we ventured outside of the nest that we realized what a small part of it we truly were. One night when my siblings and I were exploring the forest, we saw silent winged shadow sweep across the moon. Thankfully, Mother was with us too. She squeaked at us, “stamping [her] front feet rapidly and vibrating her tail” urgently.[[5]] We knew that was her warning sign and hurried back to the tunnel underground in the shelter of our nest. “That was the Owl,” Mother said gravely. “It will swoop down and pluck you away without a sound. We must always be wary of predators.”

Text Box: Myself as an adult, in front of my own burrow.

[iii]

 
Although I was with Mother only for a short time, I learned all about surviving from her. We mice are always moving: always sniffing, always listening, always watching. We are also a resourceful and humble species, finding homes in burrows underground and even in hollowed out trees. We make do with what we can, foraging for berries, seeds, fruit, and insects without much pickiness. Even though the night is dangerous, daylight is even more so. When the sun rises, I know I will have to return home to my underground burrow and sleep until the night returns.[[6]]

Although my life will not be very long, I have already known many friends and family who have been taken by the night. But that is simply the life of a mouse, and I accept my role in this world. You may think my life is insignificant, but I enjoy living mostly unnoticed. It is in my nature—my role in the world—as a mouse.

I was terribly unsure of my spirit animal until Hoot Owl suggested the mouse to me. After doing some research into its behavior and characteristics as a spirit animal, I realized the mouse was a good fit for my personality while still offering ways for me to improve as a person. For the purpose of the spirit animal narrative, I chose the deer mouse to maintain continuity and create more specificity. I can certainly see the mouse as a “trustworthy oracle for advice … who will help [me] learn about both the spirit world and the natural world.” [[7]]

One of the characteristics I have most in common with the mouse is that I always try to “quietly get on with [my] business and accomplish [my] purpose without too much attention.”[[8]] I actually feel progressively more mouse-like as I write. I’m generally quiet by nature, so I’m okay with being unobtrusive for the most part. I blend into the background, so sometimes I get a bit surprised when people notice me. I think it’s because I’m a small person, and mice are small animals (well, most of them). Mice mostly communicate in squeaks, shrieks, and trills; likewise, I have a hard time projecting my voice. Some people say it’s a confidence issue, but I think that’s also just how the timbre of my voice is. Anyway, as I researched more on the mouse as a spirit animal, I learned that I have more in common with this little rodent than simply physical characteristics.

The mouse is “very detail-oriented, so much that [she] sometimes loses the big picture.”[[9]] This characteristic is in the nature of a mouse because it is such a small animal, and I definitely identify with her. Unlike the mouse, I don’t have good eyesight at all, but I do have a good eye. I’m proud of my attention to detail as a rhetoric and writing major because I’m usually able to spot mistakes easily. My skill is also helpful in leadership roles because I’m able to assist and remind my peers about important details that may get overlooked.

My attention to detail can also be a weakness, and naturally the challenge for the mouse and for me will be to find a balance between the two. On one hand, fixating on details makes me lose sight of the ultimate goal and hampers my ability to follow through with my many obligations. Sometimes I find myself caught up in minor tasks, such as figuring out how exactly to word an email or precisely what to include on a short presentation. On the other hand, focusing only on the big picture would cause me to overlook and skip over the smaller tasks that I need to accomplish step by step. Having the mouse as my spirit animal will remind me of the careful balance between being detail-oriented and goal-oriented.

The mouse also tends to be “clean and fastidious in many areas of [her] life, but neglectful in others.” [[10]] I can definitely relate to this quality as well. I suppose it goes back to how I tend to be detail-oriented. Naturally, it’s impossible to pay attention to every single detail of every single aspect of my life, so I do end up keep up with certain things pretty well while falling behind in others. For example, if I catch up with coursework for one class, it’s at the cost of falling behind on work for another class. Again, finding a balance between details and the big picture will be necessary for me.

The mouse likes to be organized, which makes sense as it would be necessary for living in such a small space. She must keep her nest neat not only for herself, but for her pups as well. Unfortunately I lack that quality, and I’ll be looking to the mouse for guidance on keeping everything in its place. If only my life and possessions were as simple as the mouse’s! Sometimes I feel like I have way too many things to put away, but no place to put them. Organization is an essential trait for a leader, so I need to learn from the mouse’s spirit in order to lead successfully and efficiently.

Text Box: Typical field mouse collecting food. I try to store backups too.

[iv]

 
I think the clutter in my living space is partly due to the fact that I like to “warehouse supplies, keeping enough around so that [I] don’t have to worry.” [[11]] Description: http://www.globalregina.com/uploadedImages/Global_Saskatoon/News/Deer-Mice.jpgSome mice hibernate; others, such as deer mice, do not. As foragers, deer mice must constantly search for food even when it is scarce during the wintertime. As a result, they like to store food and collect feathers, grass, and fur to keep their nest comfortable. Similarly, I always like to take extra of something (groceries, school supplies, etc.) so that I won't have to worry about getting it later in case I run out.

As I mentioned before, the mouse and I like to shy away from attention because we’re more comfortable being out of the spotlight and not out in the open, which feels like dangerous territory. Although I’m getting better at it, my heart races when I have to speak in front of a large group or even anticipate speaking in front of one. There are still times when I want to contribute to a discussion but am too timid to jump in and say what I want. I want to further branch out of my comfort zone more because it’s not conducive to being a good leader, and I need to learn to not be afraid of having eyes on me. The mouse isn’t by nature an assertive creature, and neither am I. I think this will be one of my biggest struggles as a leader: creating a large presence despite having a withdrawn nature.

I think that calling on the mouse’s energy could help me solve a lot of the obstacles I face everyday—feelings of being overwhelmed, disorganized, unproductive, and scattered. Before I started this semester, the reality of my responsibilities for work and my organizations already began to loom over me. A change in my personal life which I didn’t have any control over only made me feel worse. As a result, I’ve not been feeling as self-motivated as usual, and I find myself so easily distracted. The most frustrating part is that I become worried and preoccupied with anticipating what I have to do instead of simply doing it. If I actually finished my work efficiently, I wouldn’t have anything to worry about. Hopefully by calling on the mouse’s spirit and energy, I’ll be able to reorganize my obligations and better prioritize what I need to do so I can finally get things done.

I am glad, however, that I can be honest with myself about my strengths and more importantly, my weaknesses. The mouse knows what she’s good at, but she also knows her limitations. Although I’m not the most extroverted person (among other qualities), at least my ability to identify my problems will help me begin the process of working through them. As a leader, I think the mouse will help me with the rest of it: being prepared, being organized, and having a clear idea of the tasks ahead.

WORD COUNT: 1867

WITHOUT QUOTES: 1762


 



[[1]] R. R. Heustis, “Maternal Behavior in the Deer Mouse,” Journal of Mammalogy  14 (1933): 47-49. Accessed September 26, 2012. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1374033

[[2]] Texas Tech University. “Deer Mouse: The Mammals of Texas – Online Edition,” last modified December 25, 1997, http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/peromani.htm.

[[3]] Avi, Poppy (New York City: HarperCollins, 1995), p. 10. Print.

[[4]] Ibid., p. 11.

[[5]] Adirondack Ecological Center. “Deer Mouse,” last accessed September 25, 2012, http://www.esf.edu/aec/adks/mammals/deer_mouse.htm.

[[6]] Texas Tech University. “Deer Mouse: The Mammals of Texas – Online Edition,” last modified December 25, 1997, http://www.nsrl.ttu.edu/tmot1/peromani.htm.

[[7]] Steven D. Farmer, Power Animals: How to Connect with Your Animal Spirit Guide (New York City, Hay House, Inc. 2004), 22-23.

[[8]] Shamanic Journey. “Mouse Power Animal, Symbol of Scrutiny, Order,” last accessed September 25, 2012, http://www.shamanicjourney.com/article/6117/mouse-power-animal-symbol-of-scrutiny-order .

[[9]] Steven D. Farmer, Animal Spirit Guides: An Easy-to-Use Handbook for Identifying and Understanding Your Power Animals and Animal Spirit Helpers (New York City: Hay House, 2006), p. 436.

[[10]] Ibid., p. 437.

[[11]] Ibid., p. 438

 

[i] Amanda Hill, Baby Deer Mouse, photograph, 2009, Ontario, Canada, Blogger, http://www.someoneelseskitchen.com/2009/07/unwarranted-invasion-of-privacy.html.

[ii] Deer Mouse Babies, photograph, Victor Pest, http://www.victorpest.com/advice/rodents-101/rodent-dangers.

[iii] Robert Meyer, "Deer Mouse in Gopher Burrow," video, 2012, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iO0L8naaxj4.

[iv] Phototake, cpimages.com, "Deer Mouse eating berries, upstate New York," http://www.globalregina.com/pages/media.aspx?id=6442506172&mediaID=4500361.