When I was maybe five years old, my parents took us to a cozy farmhouse-cum-resort in the Poconos called Daniels Top-O-The-Poconos Family Resort (which, I am heartened to learn, is still thriving!)
Too young to be critical of much, I and my more discerning sister Liz attended its family-friendly (though admittedly somewhat lame) roster of activities with gusto... which included thrill-a-minute affairs such as "Snipe Hunting" (yes, really), and "Deer Feeding."
Liz was quick to call shenanigans on the Snipe affair, but the Deer situation ... well, that I'm sure was seen as just as ridiculous to most if not everyone else... but to us, it resonates even today.
You see, these were wild deer we were to feed.
And this required standing statue-still in a high-grass field with an open palm of doughy deer food, while the deer slowly edged their noses from the forest beyond. There were maybe ten or twenty of us to start ... And one by one, they all quit, hurling the pasty bits into the grass.
I have vague memories of our parents suggesting that we throw in the towel as well. But we didn't.
When they saw our determination, they were inspired to stick it out too.
My mother recalls we were there for at least a half an hour, though at that age I had no sense of time. I don't even recall my arm feeling tired, though I suppose it must have been.
The only thing I recall is the rough, gently slithery tongue of the deer as it slurped the food from my palm while it let me touch it's feathery ear with my other hand. A second deer gingerly lapped up my sister's offering before both sped back to the forest.
Over the years, as insecurities, doubts and anxieties crept into my personality, this level of patience began to desert me as that deer might have if I hadn't kept quietly still, stalwart in my belief that it would trust me. If, say, I'd rushed towards it, demanding it accept my gift -- as I have found myself doing in too many other situations -- I would have ended the day with a frightened deer and faithless disappointment in myself.
If, indeed, I had behaved that way, I would have revealed that even in giving, I would have been taking; that the desired interaction would have been for my sake, and not for the sake of the creature, or for the joy of our momentary interaction.
Now... at this time in my life, when many of my most deeply cherished dreams are starting to come true ... I recall that five-year-old self ... who knew how to place herself exactly where she needed to be, whose little foot rested steadfastly on the deepest, purest conviction in knowing that all she had to do ... is wait.