I’M A HAPPY MOLE
Yesterday, on NPR’s Fresh Air , I heard I great exchange between two characters from the show “Enlightened.” Laura Dern plays a woman who wants to blow the whistle on her employer’s nefarious activities. She’s trying to enlist the help of her reluctant co-worker.
DERN: (As Amy) Don’t you feel an obligation? People are living under the illusion that the American dream is working for them, and it’s rigged by the guys at the tippy-top.
CO-WORKER: Well, I may not be at the top, but I’m happy.
DERN: No, you’re not. You’re miserable. You’re a mole. You’re paralyzed.
CO-WORKER: Well, I’m changing. I just joined the company gym, and I got a discount because of my employee badge, and I’m going to work out more. And my aunt died, and I just found out I got her time share. So I’m going to go to the Bahamas for two weeks a year. So, maybe I’m a mole, but I’m a happy mole, and I don’t want to lose what little I have, OK?
I’ve been thinking about what it was about this exchange that struck me. I took a walk, mulling it over. My first thought was that the back-and-forth highlights the struggle between the ego and the soul. Our ego wants to stay comfortable, it wants to take care of number one. But the soul has higher aspirations; it recognizes that we are all one and that we are only truly happy and satisfied to the degree that we are serving the whole.
But then another, alternative idea popped into consciousness, which was this: Perhaps the co-worker has a very legitimate point of view. After all, is it not important to be grateful and satisfied with the small things, to be satisfied with what we have?
And of course, both perspectives are correct. It’s a messy argument, really. Anytime we polarize ourselves into black-and-white competing camps, like ego vs. soul, we are bound to wind up confused, frustrated, and/or in total despair—unless we figure out how to hold what Carl Jung called “the tension of the opposites.” It’s not either-or. It’s both-AND.
A mole is perfect in its mole-ness. It does its thing unobtrusively and largely unseen. In the process it helps the earth by breaking up the soil. Moles are good. They are also blind, which of course is Laura Derns’ character’s point. The mole has very little perspective, so while it’s happily living its little mole life, other things are happening beyond it’s purview, things which will have an impact on the mole’s life at some point. Should the mole care? And if the mole did in fact care, what should he do? What can he do?
This enlightened exchange happens in my house all the time. My husband is obsessed with looking into the reality behind the facade of our current socio-political-economic structure, and what he sees there is pretty rotten. It’s all a house of cards and it’s about to crash, or at least that’s my takeaway. And the truth is, I don’t doubt it one bit. But the truth also is that I can only do what I do, what I have to do: take care of my children and breathe in and out and be as present to the unfolding moments as I can be—and to try to stay connected to my higher self, to my innate moleness, or Kateness.
Somewhere in here is a tiny little point at which these two perspectives balance—precariously and just for a nanosecond—and that’s where I’m trying to hang out, pointing my little nose out and sniffing the air, staying true to my calling, which is to help enlighten, and to remember that “all God’s critters got a place in the choir,” as the song goes. (If you haven’t heard the Clancy Brothers singing their rendition on YouTube, it’s addictive.)
I think Carlos Castaneda put it best when he wrote about the warrior spirit. He said (and forgive the paraphrase) that the warrior goes into battle with the full knowledge that it is all complete folly, utterly meaningless, but he goes in with his full fighting spirit and gives it his all.
I’m not sure where all this leads, exactly, but I think it’s to this: Embrace your inner mole. Embodying the fullness of who you are, whoever and whatever that is, and sharing that fullness with the world is the most anyone can ask for.