I have had rabbits with me my entire life. Wise-cracking cartoon bunnies bugs-ing me on Saturday mornings. Real rabbits in the fields and lawns and roadside ditches. One rabbit dragged me with Alice to Wonderland. Another taught me how to outwit Br’er Fox. One was a Pooka. Another was a friend of Pooh. Still another was as mad as the hatter. There’s a certain wise rabbit who meets me in the lower world. There are ceramic and felted rabbits who watch me from a shelf on my desktop, and painted ones on my walls.. And in my headphones, one of my favorite bands, Frightened Rabbit, sings to me as I write.
The reasons for all these rabbit familiars are not lost on me. I am rabbit-like myself. I spend my days in constant vigilance, on alert for predators, nose twitching, ears up, listening, watching, ready to put my long legs to work as I dash away from peril. I can sense danger coming from far away in both space and time, and if I cannot outwit it first, I can always hide in the thicket. But when cleverness fails, and fleeing is not an option, I have sharp claws and a fierce kick as well. If forced, I can and will fight.
I have rabbits in my life because I am part rabbit myself. It’s how I’m wired, it’s my Asperger’s neurology, and it showed up as far back as my kindergarten report card with a comment about how sensitive I am, and how that problem™ would need to be corrected. But it’s also a product of my experience, as the years and conflicts and losses of life have taken their toll, leaving trauma in their wake. Some days, it feels like I’m surrounded by stoats and eagles and foxes. Some days, I get very tired of being on alert.
There’s one rabbit who always makes me cry. Get hold of a copy of the movie version of Watership Down. There’s a scene at the end. Hazel, the Chief Rabbit, has grown old and weary. The Black Rabbit of Inlé comes to Hazel and offers him a place in his Owsla. Tired, ready, Hazel leaves his body behind and accompanies the spirit guide into the woods, “where the first primroses were beginning to bloom.” I cannot watch without sobbing, and wonder if, when my own Black Rabbit comes, I, too, will find a place of primroses and peace.
I would like that. Some days I get so tired of being on alert.
“All the world will be your enemy, Prince With a Thousand Enemies. And whenever they catch you, they will kill you. But first they must catch you. Digger. Listener. Runner. Prince with the swift warning. Be cunning, and full of tricks, and your people shall never be destroyed.” (Richard Adams, Watership Down)