Peak Perspectives: Aesop in the Canyon

*Note: This audio essay first aired on KRCC (Colorado Springs’ NPR affiliate, 91.5 FM) on November 5, 2020. The link to the program is here; the audio file and the text from the essay are below.

Do you remember the Lion and the Mouse? The fable comes from Aesop, a slave and storyteller that lived in ancient Greece.

A Lion goes to eat a Mouse – but the Mouse tells him eating a smaller creature would bring him no honor. The Lion lets the Mouse go. 

Later, the Lion gets trapped in a hunter’s net and roars, knowing he’s about to be killed. The Mouse remembers the Lion’s kind choice – and the Mouse chews through the rope and sets the Lion free.

The point is, heroes don’t always look like we think.

Hiking with my family in Williams Canyon the other day, a speedy speck of something caught our eyes.

It was a chipmunk. A few inches tall and that many ounces, at most. 

We’d stopped to watch him scurry down the empty creek bed at the base of a rock wall, like a tiny driver on his own little highway. Suddenly, he turned left – but in this case, “left” was straight up the rock wall. And up, and up, and up. From little ledge to little ledge to little ledge.

In five seconds this chipmunk climbed 50 feet. It was amazing. Olympic, even. I broke out the calculator at home and found that tiny chipmunk’s climb is roughly equivalent to a 6-foot-tall person scaling the Empire State Building in five seconds!

Even a chipmunk can do much more than I ever could – just given the right environment. 

Small can be super, and if small can be super, so can you.

Be good, be well, be the angel of forgiveness to someone who needs it. Until next week, no matter what, climb on.

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