This Is Where Mice Do Sumo

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 19, 2012 in Rat News | Subscribe

I love animals of all shapes and sizes. I used to raise large lizards–a Nile Monitor, two Savannah Monitors and three Chinese Water Dragons, as well as several iguanas. I also had four pet rats, docile and trained and lots of fun.

So imagine my surprise at my own reaction when we found evidence of a field mouse in our house. I haven’t seen the actual mouse yet, so no jumping onto a table screaming, but just its byproducts were enough to send me into a full-blown panic attack.

First, I Googled. Why does that seem to be every phobic’s first step? But just like every other time I’ve Googled something frightening, it sent me careening down the path to further panic. OMG! Mice can carry Hantavirus!! It took me two hours to calm down enough to research Hantavirus in Texas, where we currently are. There have been no reported cases in this part of the state in over ten years. Ever notice how tough it really is to sort out facts from hype on the Internet?

In an effort to flush out the mouse, or at least make a less attractive home, I drenched everything in sight with Lysol and we started the laborious process of cabinet-checking. We live in an RV, so the furnace is in a compartment directly under my bed. A quick peek revealed Ground Zero for the infestation. I panicked. Who wants to think about sleeping on top of something that scares them?

My father stepped in to be the hero, scrubbing that compartment until it shone. We’re in the process of putting out mousetraps in there, and finishing the checks of the rest of the cabinets. But despite these realities, a lingering fear remained.

Then I remembered an exhibit we recently saw at the New Orleans Museum of Art, featuring the work of 17th century Zen Master and calligrapher Hakuin. Several of his works star a rotund godlike figure named Hotei interacting with his surroundings. One of my favorite pieces depicts Hotei watching a Sumo match between two mice. The inscription states “This is where mice do sumo.”

I burst out laughing. Like a boggart in the Harry Potter series, fear cannot remain when it is replaced by humor. Now instead of scary creatures lurking under my bed, I can picture small field mice competing in a Sumo match. Nontraditional, perhaps, but it killed my fear.

Are you able to convert fearful thoughts to more humorous ideas? As always, I look forward to your thoughts!

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