Running an errand from Loyalsock into Montoursville on a cold, snow-covered afternoon, a moving, jumping object caught the corner of my eye. It was a stray deer trying (in vain) to jump a roadway fence and get onto the bike path.
Try as she might, she couldn’t scale it by trying to leap it. So in a brutal and bloody display of fortitude, the creature charged the fence and battered it with her head. It was painful to watch this desperate attempt, so I pulled over, turned on the emergency flashers and approached the poor thing.
Not only was she panting heavily, and confused, she was bleeding profusely and appeared to have a broken jaw. Her one eye was also gouged from the sharp edges of the metal fence.
Several other drivers also pulled over. None of us lion tamers, I think all we could do was try to keep the deer from running into traffic and get her around the fence by prodding her in the right direction. And try to comfort the deer if she collapsed.
I actually got close enough to pet it but didn’t want to “spook it” to the point of kicking or running onto the beltway and causing an accident. She had already tracked about 150 yards up the fence. Leaving marks on each head butt. The deer had a mere 50 more yards to find “the other side.”
Before the State Police or Game Commission arrived, the deer actually made it, albeit hobbling and still a bloody mess. The beast wobbled into the ensuing wooded area like a wounded bank robber evading authorities. I can’t tell you it’s fate, but I do know they would have shot it to prevent any more suffering.
This rattled my afternoon of content. Couldn’t get the images of that scarred eye and ripped apart snout out of my mind. Of how this deer turned itself into a literal “battering ram” in an attempt to get over and beyond that barrier. Yea, the “other side.”
It dawned on me this deer could represent hundreds upon hundreds of humans who are also banging their heads into oblivion in trying to get to another place they need to be. A personal barrier they have to break. So hear me out, as I tend to go deep.
Those kids I went to school with and sat next to, and then suddenly, they were gone. Plucked from the place with no notice. That left us hanging. Then the whispers they got whisked away due to family turmoil or abuse. Like that deer running into the woods and out of sight, I will never know how they turned out in life. Perhaps prisoners in their own home, wanting to escape those walls, and fortunately, somebody put the four ways on and discovered discontent and acted on it.
Then, of all things and all people, Cindy popped into my head. A pudgy, hyperactive girl in junior high that was bullied to the point of tears every day she entered the place. Alone, and bruised just like that deer. I bet she hated school as much as that deer despised that five-foot fence. Crazy. The school system was put into place to educate and nurture but was anything but for Cindy, who got pushed to the ground and shoved to the back of the lunch line on a daily basis. And that cold, gray fence? It was supposed to keep animals and humans out of harm’s way, not the other way around as this poor deer was finding out! How do some of us find ourselves on the “wrong side” of things?
Nowhere is this more apparent than substance abuse. Scaling that tough fence is something I can comprehend about as much as being pregnant. I can’t because I haven’t gone through it. And yet, I have been around adults who are as dazed and confused as that deer. High as a kite on drugs, but feet still on the ground. Or was that the kids smoking pot in the school parking lot? Doesn’t matter at this point.
I think that’s why people who pulled over to help that baffled and damaged animal are the same type who “fawn” over the needy and addicted. I tried to “steer” the deer into the right direction. Dedicated professionals do the same for people hooked on heroin or alcohol or other drugs that ruin the brain and body.
You know what the worst part of that sunny afternoon was? To witness the excruciating pain, this animal was inflicting on itself. Bashing its skull over and over into the fence. Then backing up and trying to jump over it and falling down continuously. I just wanted to scream, “NO! Go around it, don’t try to topple it!”
More craziness. Humans (who supposedly CAN comprehend) do the same thing to themselves over and over and over. Isn’t sticking a needle loaded with heroin into your arm self-inflicted abuse that may just kill you? Or drinking and driving a risk that should never be taken, even though we’ve been told since grade school it’s a bad thing?
I kind of wish I went another way that day, which meant I wouldn’t have vividly seen that deer trying desperately to get out of a difficult situation with less than stellar results. Which meant the upper cogs wouldn’t be ignited, which in turn made me compare things no one else might not compare. Then my thoughts had to be converted to paper because I felt it was of relevance.
Reality sets in. That deer probably collapsed by nightfall and died, and her offspring can’t comprehend why. The people who pulled over with me all think we could have done something else or something more. Drug addicts die daily, and their children can’t comprehend why. The people assigned to helping them all think they could have done more. Bullied kids feel they are fighting heights the size of the former Berlin Wall.
So what, if anything, does a flailing deer gave in common with a hapless (but recovering) drug addict? Sometimes, doing things on your own is too much to ask.