Diddle Diddle

Nin came upon a farm. In his younger days he would have disparaged the animals here as tame and dull, but now he was a little older, and a little wiser and thought perhaps they warranted further evaluation.

A group of cows were grazing in the meadow, and he was surprised, in some ways, at how rabbit-like they were. They nibbled at the sweet grass like rabbits did, they moved in casual groups like rabbits did, and—most intriguingly—they leapt and played much like rabbits.

Nin observed the herd as they ate and played and conversed until he found a cow that seemed different from the rest. This cow jumped the highest, the freest, the most gaily.

Nin introduced himself. “You’re quite the leaper,” he said. “As a hopper myself, I can appreciate a good leap. But I must admit, I never took cows to be much for the sport.”

“All cows play to some extent, but most spend their days idly, yes,” replied the cow. “I, however, have always enjoying leaping and playing, I’ve done so all my life. When I was young I began to notice that the more I leapt and played, the weaker the earth’s pull on me, the weaker the effects of gravity. I decided to test my limits. I leapt higher and higher! Soon I was jumping over hills and mountains. Then one day I leapt so high I jumped right over the moon!”

Nin suddenly grew envious. “Over the moon? What did you see?”

“It was a transcended experience, one that cannot be conveyed, but must be experienced for oneself.”

This vague answer quickly returned Nin to his skeptical self. Now Nin remembered why he so readily dismissed barn animals. “What did you do before you leapt?” he asked. “Chew cud and produce milk?”

The cow replied that it was so.

“And what about now? Still chewing cud and producing milk.”

“Yes,” replied the cow quite happily. “But the manner in which I chew my cud and produce my milk is entirely different. Compare an amateur painter working their first, tentative canvas and the artist who has made a thousand masterpieces—still, both must mix paint.”

Nin observed the cow for a while, but his untrained eye could not discern any appreciable difference between this cow’s chewing and any other’s. There was a difference, yes, but he could not classify what that difference was. It was a slight, almost indistinguishable difference, perhaps one that only an expert in cows could identify.

“Knowing what you do, and having experienced what you have, why is it you remain here, in this fenced off place?” he asked. “Don’t you crave freedom?”

“Liberation is a state of mind, not a place,” replied the cow. A certain nobility came over their complexion. “And there is work to be done here, with my kin. At night I leap freely across the sky—but I will always return here by morning’s light until the very last cow has been liberated, until at last they all have leapt as freely and as happily as I have leapt. Only then will I depart, never to return.”