Are deer storytellers?

Do deer tell stories? Does the mother doe imagine fictional bucks in make-believe lands, and send them on bedtime adventures to quiet the minds of her restless fawns?

Put this writer in a room with his readers, and given enough time, those are the sorts of seemingly bizarre questions that eventually arise. And thank God! Or thank providence, or mere happenstance, or whatever causal effect, or lack thereof, best allows you to share my joy at the asking. Because, now we’re questioning everything. And for however long that questioning lasts, we’re awake, paying attention, vibrant with unbridled thought. We are alive.

When the title of Phillip K. Dick’s celebrated novel famously asked, “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” my young brain flared brilliant, shooting off in a dozen delicious directions, me not knowing which thread to pursue, afraid that I might forget one while following the full length of another. Yet, I had never felt so alive. Eventually, I followed them all, as far as I could, and wound up back at the center of my explosion, exactly where I believe the writer intended, asking myself, “What does it mean to be human?”

When the question “Are deer storytellers?” is asked, my heart skips a beat. For isn’t storytelling something that we consider uniquely human? But what about the bee that returns to the hive, and through dance shows the distance and direction to nectar? Although non-fiction, is that not a story? When the lion roars its challenge, does it not send playing across your mind a vision of raking claws and powerful jaws clamped across your throat? If not fiction, what is your vivid imagining of a terror that has not yet come to pass?

Storytelling is art. And art is song and sculpture, wild dance and epic tale, color and sound, taste and touch, the haunting scents that makes us long for the lost. Everything is art…to someone. If I am born blind, does that render Rembrandt a purveyor of protective coatings? Isn’t what we call art a function of our own limitations to see, to perceive? And often, a blindfold we place on ourselves?

So yes, deer are storytellers. When the mother doe drops her head, nipping the grass left, then right, then back two steps to nip again, she tells a story that only other deer can read, a story of peace, a tale of endless fields of soft clover and bubbling brooks, a land where all mountain lions are vegans. At least, I like to hope so. I don’t want us humans to be unique. Alone.

Steam of Consciousness Quotes:

“‘Fifteen hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was the center of the universe. Five hundred years ago, everybody knew the Earth was flat, and fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humans were alone on this planet. Imagine what you’ll know tomorrow.’”—Kay, MEN IN BLACK screenplay, by Ed Solomon

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”—Albert Einstein