LIVE FROM YOUR HEART
A Short Story by Suzy Kassem
Stashed beneath the wooden floorboards of a senior center in New Jersey, lived a huge colony of mice.
For years, the mice have been running up and down the frail walls of the disintegrating building, harvesting food and community while rapidly multiplying and dying like flies. Organized under one household system, they were packed and segmented by family or ailment. Each family was responsible for providing for its own, and a percentage of daily earnings taken from each family was to be contributed to the administrators that oversaw the system.
At 2 years old (15 in human years), Wiz was just a brown mouse who lived a very predictable life. Sometimes when he was out scavenging for food, he thought about leaving his colony and never returning home. He didn’t enjoy living the mundane life and saw the world through kaleidoscope glasses. He could not believe the horrible stories told by the fat mice, the administrators of his mouse system, about the brave mice that did manage to abandon the house. He remembered their words about the humans spitting and stepping on his kind because they detested their freedom. He could not believe that living things could be so cruel to one another. He also couldn’t believe that humans would hate his freedoms when he never viewed himself as being free. His earnings were taken from him and nobody listened to his concerns on finding ways together to better the house system. Nobody cared if Wiz returned home empty-handed from a day of scavenging. Nobody around him thought about anything but finding food, food, and more FOOD. He believed there was so much more outside of shitty limits.
The mice seldom conversed with each other, and crossed paths only while sharing the same bathroom facilities, during fights, or when they entered or exited out of the same hole. Wiz craved a real mental connection to release his yearnings and rages. His heart told him that there were other worlds outside of his current system where he would find more happiness, and that he would stumble upon other minds that would understand him because they thought just like he. His heart went on to tell him that beyond the boundaries of his isolated world were pastures that split seven ways with enough within them to stimulate his curiosity until the day he died.
Yet every night, Wiz would tell his heart that he feared he would not survive outside of the system. He feared he would be killed by the humans or would not have enough food to make it scavenging on his own. With each passing day, his fears multiplied. His mind kept reminding him of the words of the fat mice. His mind was scaring and over-preparing him. The longer he waited to execute his plan to runaway, more fears accumulated in his tiny mind that, in the end, at the mouse age of just 54, he died bitter — and with glasses with broken lenses.
If Wiz had listened to his heart, he would have realized that there were as many beautiful reasons to go explore — as there were fears about leaving. He would have also realized that over time, he had developed more fears about leaving than the number of fears for staying. And most importantly, he would have realized that throughout time, his mind became his enemy, while his heart, which he ignored, always stayed his loyal and true friend.
If he had only listened to his soul’s cravings that were repeatedly echoed through his heart, he would not have suffered 40 years of regret for not pursuing his heart’s wishes. If only he had known that one day of mental bliss weighed more than 40 years of suffering. Wiz would have had fewer regrets had he followed his heart and not his mind.
It is only normal then…that the colors in his kaleidoscope faded away over time…somewhere beneath the wooden floorboards of a senior center in New Jersey.
By Suzy Kassem