Mulberry

Often, before he left on his pilgrimage, Nin would sit beneath the mulberry tree and think. He called it meditation, but in practice it was closer introspection, or just arguing with himself.

Although he was considered clever and learned he knew that there were many things about himself he did not understand. And although he was considered charming and outgoing he knew there were many things about his fellow rabbits he could not comprehend.

He had friends, and camaraderie, but always, it seemed, there was some barrier that existed between rabbits and kept them separated. Nin did not have a name for this barrier, he could hardly even describe it. But he felt strongly that it permeated his existence, and the existence of his peers, his elders and his subjects.

This barrier sowed discord, it confused that which should be simple.

He likened it to a sheen of wax. The rain—the water of vital knowledge, of connectivity—just beaded and ran off, nothing could penetrate, no one could truly understand one another, or even themselves.

Or perhaps it was like the static in the air before a thunderstrike. Sometimes when he thought about it, it made his ears stand straight up and his skin prickle, and during these times he knew that if he could only just solve this riddle—remove this barrier—all problems would resolve, all anxieties would dissipate. That this division, this separation, was at the root of all worldly problems.

Yet the more he considered this conundrum the more remote it seemed. It was not a problem he could see with his eyes or hear with his ears, keen as they were, long as they were.

Was this the fate of rabbits, wondered Nin, to perceive but to be unable to progress?

Oh, how it vexed him, this sheen, this separation.