portrait of The Imaginative Rabbit

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

thoughts from The Imaginative Rabbit

“Hello, my friends, I’m so glad you are here!” My excited greeting rings out over the round dining table that I covered with a leafy green tablecloth in preparation for our meal. Enthusiasm for the presence of these wonderful individuals radiates through my body and tickles me from my whiskers to my tail. It’s been an agonizingly long time since I last sat near them, and I’m ready to soak up every cherished minute of their presence.

My group of dinner guests is comprised of treasured friends, a few favorite family members, and a handful of tag-along partners. It’s the eyes and the ears of these individuals that tell me that they will be my long-time friends. And everyone in this group has met, if not exceeded, my standards.

They are able to see with their ears, and they are able to hear with their eyes. Perhaps that’s an odd statement. And perhaps it’s not.

There’s a traveler in our group. They move often, go on extraordinary adventures, meet fascinating individuals, and recount their journeys with wonderfully animated tales. A story is beginning because someone else mentioned mountains. Ah yes, those epic and majestic land features are always the catalyst of someone’s adventure! I’m preparing food and catching bits of the story with my turned ear: “. . .steepest incline west of the . . . tumbled over boulders bigger than . . . I learned my lesson for sure!” My other guests look like artists as they listen. Their eyes are on that mountain, climbing the rigorous terrain, tripping over obstacles, and struggling to endure the challenges presented to them. The colors of the sky are vivid in their brains. They can see each leaf, tree, plant, rock, critter, and root on the journey. In their minds’ eyes, they can peer into the distance with the storyteller, anticipate the next obstacle, glimpse the bird flying high above, and notice subtle changes in the cloud cover. They are vicariously living this adventure; they are seeing with their ears.

I’m a distractible cook. Something is missing in this dish, I forget what I planned to add, and my intended taste and texture combination has not been achieved. Unfortunately, there’s not time to start over. There’s a group-wide lull in the conversation that tells me everyone is ready for food. The dish isn’t awful, so I serve it anyway. The next several minutes are filled with my favorite things: deep nose-inhales, eager munching, clamoring for second helpings, audible “mmm”’s, and tranquil grins that punctuate only the best of meals.

All the dishes were completely devoured. Except one. Yes, the Error Dish has several servings remaining. I begin shifting in my spot in anticipation of clearing the table, and there’s a quietness around me. One of my long-time friends speaks up, “I’m sorry that dish didn’t turn out as you’d intended. It really was quite an interesting combination of flavors and textures that you brought together, but I can tell you weren’t happy with the finished product.” Goodness, had I been talking to myself aloud again?! My friend continued, “Let me help you clean up, and we can brainstorm the missing ingredient together.” Not only has my friend read my mind, but they’ve offered the most fitting support for my disappointment. I pick these friends with such care, so I should not be surprised when they hear my needs with their eyes.

As my dinner guests collect themselves in anticipation of their departure, I thank them profusely for dining with me. “Do you know what I love about you all? It’s that you can see with your ears and hear with your eyes. Thank you, thank you for being you!” They laugh and lovingly call out other sense-based contradictory statements as they leave: Smell with your tongue! Talk with your antennae! Touch with your nose! Breathe with your skin!

Perhaps these are odd statements. And perhaps they are not.

Durso, Andrew. “Explainer: Why Do Snakes Flick Their Tongues?” The Conversation, July 31, 2014. https://theconversation.com/explainer-why-do-snakes-flick-their-tongues-29935.

ElephantVoices. “Tactile Communication.” Elephant Communication. Accessed July 6, 2021. https://www.elephantvoices.org/elephant-communication/tactile-communication.html.

“How Do Ants Breathe? - BBC Science Focus Magazine.” Accessed July 6, 2021. https://www.sciencefocus.com/nature/how-do-ants-breathe/.

University of Melborne. “Ant Antennae Are a Two-Way Communication System.” ScienceDaily, March 30, 2016. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/03/160330103328.htm.