Schrodinger’s Mouse

Image by Dan Lurie, under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.
Image by Dan Lurie, under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.


It’s cheeky, using Schrodinger to hook. Poor Schrodinger. I wonder how he would actually feel about becoming a geek culture reference.

Thank you for the messages after my first post. I was surprised – not pleasantly, or otherwise – that people actually read, and then took the time to comment.

I’m enough of a procrastinator – which is pretty much what my first post was all about, essentially – to know that clicking on a link in Facebook and reading about someone’s else’s pain/efforts/day/baking is a lot easier than doing [insert Thing You Don’t Want To Do Here], but taking the time to actually say something supportive, as brief as that time may be, is touching and genuinely helped.

I also know that there will have been many other reactions, mostly in the indifference or eye-rolling spectrum, that I don’t know about. But going ‘I’m going to do it anyway’ is the only answer to those, real or imagined. I’m aware this project is basically a mental two fingers to all the people who tried to shrink me, just as I’m aware that almost nothing is linear, and I will be shrunk again, I will shrink myself again, and other times I’ll feel like a cross between Judi Dench and Wonder Woman (I must ask Alex Cass or Penny Lattey to draw that for me). Acknowledging that this will be crap is only a part inoculation, but it’s enough to keep me here, and that’s more than I’ve managed in a long time.

Which brings me to the bloody mouse, yes.

Houses in NZ are wooden, most of the time. (This mostly means they don’t have central heating, which is a whole. Other. Rant.) Winter has just started here. So the mice want to come inside. A lot.
Before Debbie (my host) left, she pointed out where she’d placed mouse traps, and said “You might have to deal with dead mice occasionally, that’s alright, yes?” to which I nodded, of course. I genuinely meant it at the time, just having a slight pang that it was a mortal trap, rather than the ‘let them go’ ones. Until the first body appeared. And I slammed the cupboard door shut, doing a very good imitation of a Catholic who’s just found out the Pope is coming to their house for tea (I don’t know why, I was raised in a Protestant family, and with very little mention of God at all, but when shocked, I will invariably mutter “Jesus, Mary and Joseph” automatically.)

I then went next door, to the office, and asked Michelle, the manager, to come and deal with it. I actually hovered, whilst she took the trap outside, my heart beating, and released the corpse into the soil. I felt *rubbish*. I should be able to cope with it. After the third time I’d opened the door, slammed it shut, said a rosary that I don’t remember ever hearing, and ran, wringing my hands, to Michelle, I was thoroughly traumatised. Both at the body count, and at my own *crapness*.

So I did something even worse. I stopped looking. I know. This is going to end badly. I know. I’m an idiot.

I realised that, without being conscious of it, I was in a loop of… if I don’t open the cupboard, I never have to know whether there’s a dead, bowels-evacuated mouse for me to clear up in there. If I look, and there is, then I *have* to deal with it , because I *can’t* ask Michelle again, I just can’t. But if I don’t know whether the mouse is there or not, if I don’t open that cupboard door, and collapse the probability wave, I don’t have to do anything. I can, with impunity, say that I didn’t know. It’s the lamest of lame excuses and ways to go about one’s business…
There was one more incidence of running to Michelle. After I hadn’t opened the door for three days. It was grim. I didn’t move the corpse, but I did clean up the contents of its bowels. *shudder*

After that, I began to notice when I was walking past the cupboard, and not opening it. And then I thought of the title, and that kept me amused for a while.

Suddenly, I realised – with a similar feeling that I like to imagine the Greek philosophers had, when Aristotle shouted Egad! on the steps of the Parthenon – that this, of course, applies, to everything in my life. It was like those moments when you go ‘Why are my feet wet?’, look down, and realise you’ve wondered into a *huge* puddle, that there is no reasonable way you should have missed seeing coming. Really, genuinely, I hadn’t ever extrapolated Schrodingers’ idea this far, when I’d ever encountered the Cat version. Stupid, or just the wrong perspective, call it what you will. But I suddenly realised I do this with almost everything. Mostly to do with my ambition(s). If I don’t try and do X, Y or Z, if I don’t ever open the damn door… then I won’t have to see whether there’s streamers and a disco ball and a tiny mouse having a party, jumping into gymnastic contortions to spell out ‘Yay!’… or just a big, red cross, accompanied with the noise ‘Uh-Er!’

As a protection against failure this totally works, but it also means you don’t ever enjoy success..

As a child, I was frequently praised for my achievements – and for my writing, actually – was told that I was going to be successful, famous even, Definitely out of all my siblings, I was the one that was going to rock it. There are an enormous amount of articles now on how this is actually quite damaging – whenever I now hear a parent tell a child “You can do anything!” I wince – so I won’t rehash all that. I’ll extract the positive bit, which is the idea these same articles put forward, that praising the *effort* is key, not the outcome. So simple an idea that I automatically went ‘Yes, yes, of course, duh!’ and dismissed it. It’s returned to me a lot, and at some point I must have ingested it properly.

Because my second Egad! came quick on the heels of the first, which was that it’s not what’s inside the cupboard that is the be all and end all, it’s the opening of it as well. In the last week, I do a big sigh, and open that bloody door. Thus far, there has been no dead mouse. So, you could argue I haven’t had to actually do anything, or the hard part, or really *tested* myself. But fuck it – I’ve become proud of myself for just looking; for not putting it off, being brave enough, despite what it might mean, to look. The trying is a massive part of it, and should be lauded. Stop focusing solely on the outcome, and congratulate yourself on the effort. On not shrinking away from it. Because it’s now getting easier to open the door each time, even though one of these times, there’s going to be a dead mouse. And I’m going to have to take its poor, crushed body outside. And then wipe up it’s dying wee. But then I’ll go back to opening the door and seeing no dead mouse…and then I win on both counts 🙂

What I’m trying to say is that I think I’ve finally got it, now. I’m going to celebrate my work in its entirety; the process, the effort, the trying, as well as the outcome. The end result is the icing, not the whole cake. The cake will no longer ever be a lie.


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