23 August 2019

Yesterday, me and my partner went cycling. At some point the path was going by a rural road.

I was in playful mood so I joked with her how a road sign looked like a penguin. Doesn’t it really?

sign or penguin

Well, our mood soon turned to horror. Just a mile further I heard an animal in the bushes. I turned my head and saw a deer, hiding in the ditch by the side of the road.

“Look, a deer,” I stopped and waved at my partner gingerly. As she saw the deer, I was getting ready to pedal again when I heard her distressed voice. “It’s stuck 😧! It’s gonna die 😥”

That startled me, and made me get off the bike, and walk a little closer to the deer, to look. The road was on a moderate hill slope, which meant that to the right of us the land was descending, like a ditch. Beside the ditch there was a wall of bushes, and beyond it, there seemed to be a farmland property. However right at the start of the bushes, there was a metal wire fence made of squares, each square about 5 inches or so. Just enough for the head of the deer to go through, and get stuck. As we approached, the deer obviously got even more scared, and started thrashing against the fence. Its body was uphill of the fence, towards the dangerous road, and its instinct was to run away from the road and even more into the fence. Getting more and more stuck.

The deer was stuck not just in the fence, it was stuck in an infinite loop. Being stuck made it further scared, and being scared it tried to run, getting more stuck. At moments, her head and the whole of its long neck was through the fence. As I approached closer, I saw how horrible it had suffered. It’s whole neck was damaged from the fence. All the hair behind its head all the way down through the shoulders was gone, shaved off, and skin was scraped and bleeding. I felt a sinking feeling realizing it had been stuck there for a long time. I felt incredibly sad for it as I realized how much it had suffered already, and it hit me hard that it would suffer a lot more and die if we don’t do something.

Unfortunately we didn’t have wire cutters to cut the fence.

So after discussing with my partner, and going over my fear of being kicked by the deer’s rear hooves, we resolved to help the deer now. I approached the deer and grabbed it by the side, trying to immobilize it. I was still a bit concerned and cautious as it’s a wild animal after all. Thanks to some rudimentary knowledge of BJJ, I was able to grab the deer by the side, pressing my hip against its chest to reduce it’s movement. The deer kept trying to escape my hold which made it hard for us, but for the most part I was able to hold it back. Then, my partner started helping with getting the deer’s ears unstuck, so we can drag its head out of the fence.

Even then, the deer was still stuck in the infinite loop in its mind. It didn’t realize we were freeing it, and it kept trying to get more stuck. It didn’t have the benefit of detachment and perspective. Eventually, we pulled its head out of the fence. Relieved, we were looking forward to letting it run away, but when we released it, we found out it is still stuck in the infinite loop in its head. It ran back towards the fence and pushed headfirst into it. The poor fucker was in so much shock that it didn’t realize it was now free, and it didn’t even re-asses it’s situation. If I were to bet on what was going on in its mind, I’d put my money on “Road bad, field good, run towards field.”.

Lucky for it, and for us, it didn’t manage to get stuck right away, giving us enough time to lift the fence a bit, so it can sneak under it, and run to the field. We finally felt happy and relieved that we’ve prevented a miserable death. So we hugged and smiled and kissed and jumped. And with lifted spirits got back on the bikes.

And then, as I was biking, I was thinking what makes us different than the deer? And the thought that came to me is our ability to detach from the stress of the situation, and use our rational mind to find the solution. If you or I get stuck, in the same fence, we’d actually try to vary our position in more ways to get unstuck. We’d realize that getting unstuck is the first step. Perhaps that makes us more intelligent than deers?

But as I kept thinking, I wasn’t so certain any more. Just hours later I got stuck myself in an infinite loop watching “epic rap battles” on Youtube. Yes, I was fatigued from a day of biking and it was understandable. But still, after watching a couple of them I had relaxed, yet I couldn’t unglue myself from watching. I was stuck just like the deer, except that my fence was more abstract.

We’re stuck on many infinite loops in our minds, and sometimes we need a break (pun intended).

What are some infinite loops you’re stuck in?

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