The fox crouched in the corner of the small landing made by our front door and the building wall. My partner had just rushed past me saying “Fox” before I got to actually see it. I was on the next small landing down, about seven steps from our front door and with a slightly wider space before me created by the right angle bend. I fetched an umbrella from outside our neighbors door to help guide the creature down past me and then returned to my original position.
In these situations I am calm and looking the creature in the eye I tried to transmit that he was in no danger here. Moving the umbrella gently I tried to communicate that he could easily pass me on my landing without coming to any harm and, with plenty of space between us. He stared at me with fixed and alert fear. Nothing I could do would comfort or re assure him. He wanted to get as far away from me as possible. We were two thoroughly alien creatures thrown together in moment of unplanned intimacy
Whatever my intentions, whatever my attitude, upbringing or approach all the fox could see was alien and dangerous. There was no meeting ground. It slipped between the bars of the stair rail and fell to the staircase below and exited. The speed of it was a blur. It made me think.
There are many ways to view people, and I have tried several of them but this incident made me recall one. There are those who leave the womb of their mother as if in a tank. The world is a to be navigated and winning and appearance are key tools for survival.They move forward cautiously and, whenever possible, play their cards close to their chest: ” survival of the fittest” is a mantra.. What people achieve in terms of wealth and status is crucial to how they are perceived. Often their newest friend seems to be their closest one but they have a few close friends as do we all. They are canny about all social interaction. They are constantly driven by a sense of comparison. Personal worth is comparative and their morality can be relative.
Another tribe of people leave the womb like a wanderers. Life is an experience and voyage through which they come to know themselves and others. Their ambitions may be spiritual: to be a better person, or expressive: to illuminate some truth or vision in a recognised and appreciated way. They have a sense of morality as being absolute. Doing the right thing is doing the right thing and not just not getting caught doing the wrong thing. They enjoy material possessions and seek to own them but not at any cost.Coming to terms with and making friends with themselves, they are less aware of the need to dominate the social landscape.
It is not as simple as this. It is just one way of illuminating the different approaches to life. It may well be that a person may not know which tribe they are in until they are some way through their time. The key thing is, like the fox and I, these tribes tend to look at each other as alien beings. For the tanks, the wanderers are full of airy fairy nonsense and need to get stuck in to some serious progress with their career. For the Wanderer the tanks are wasting their time praying before plastic gods and barren praise. It is not that one necessarily thinks of the other as worse or bad in any way. Merely misguided. In truth most of us are a mixture of these patterns which do battle within us in the war to control our approach to life. Some people are more markedly one than the other.
There is no third-party to decide which approach is the wiser or realistic. Which offers the better chance for personal happiness, fulfillment or satisfaction. I see tank dwellers as moving forward with remorseless concentration towards a barren emotional wasteland while they see me as drifting around with my head in the clouds on the edge of material ruin. To recall my previous line, we seem two thoroughly alien creatures thrown together in a moment of unplanned proximity. Both of us are right and wrong I am sure. In practice each one’s view of the other is not so extreme but this is true.
I am much more wanderer than tank. in the course of my life, and with increasing momentum, I have sought to understand myself and those around me. I have loved doing it and feel blessed to be able to think this way. During the course of my ruminations I have been a bit absent-minded with my career, which I seemed to have dropped somewhere, and I’m having some trouble finding it. I have bought many things for myself and others in my lifetime, but left them behind on my various journeys so what I actually possess is a few shirts, some of which require ironing,other clothes, my laptop and a few nick- nacks and photographs. Do I feel poor. No. in some ways I feel like the luckiest man alive, and that is one of the strangest facts of all.