Sometimes you have to be a leopard.
Fur, teeth, spots and all, you wait on a tree limb while the world passes you by. What choice does it have? It doesn’t know you’re there. That’s alright; for now, you’re just watching the parade. You may watch all morning, all month, or until the next mid-century rolls around.
At this moment, your best skills are time and holding still. What do you think this is, some kind of nature documentary? The brawn and skull-cracking jaws come later. For now they are of no use to you – in fact, just forget their existence, it’s distracting. This is Leopard-In-A-Tree time, not Leopard-Dropping-Onto-Surprised-Takeout time.
Here’s the best thing you can do: watch everything. Watch crickets in the grass, watch elephants and zebras. Watch the ant-lion build traps, the leaves that rustle in a hot breeze; the ridiculous matted-carpet fur of the lion, and the lions’ midday nap. See the skies’ change towards dry season, see the crack and torrent of monsoon. They may not be what you’re craving, but they’ll give you something.
Shall I rephrase the above? Wherever you find yourself, that’s where you are. If you’re stuck on a tree limb watching an unreachable buffet while fleas make friendly with your blood – you’re in luck1. If no one cares you’re there, so much the better. It makes it easier to watch.
If you’re careful, you’ll see something no one has ever seen, you’ll find what everyone else has overlooked. And then you’ll say what no one else has ever said, or better yet – you’ll say what thousands have already said, but you’ll say it in the words that finally stick.
For a leopard, that’s called lunch. For a writer, that’s called a paragraph.
Good luck, leopards.
One of the best insults I’ve recently heard comes from an irate Henry Miller, describing an American lady: “…You velvet-snooted gazelle.” Leopard words indeed.
1 Ask your vet to recommend a good flea collar. It works wonders, I tell you.