For any of you who had the slightest notion that I was a cool human being, I am so sorry but I'm about to rip that wool from your eyes in the nerdiest way possible.
You see, I'm reading the most fascinating book right now. About what, you ask? And to that, I respond - while pushing up my glasses and mouth breathing so close to your face that you can see every leftover lunch particle in my braces - trails. All sorts of trails. Bacterial trails, termite trails, ungulate trails, wilderness trails, computer trails. ALL OF THE TRAILS. The book is called, appropriately, On Trails, and was given to me by my incredible mother-in-law. I'm pretty sure she meant it to be a coffee table book but what can I say, it's a real page-turner.
I'm currently on a chapter about ungulates. If you don't know what an ungulate is, it means, simply, a "hoofed animal" although, in a very strange turn of events, it seems that dolphins and whales also evolved from the ungulate family. See, I told you, exciting stuff right?!
But that's not even close to the end of the excitement. So if you could, please lift your chin off the floor and follow me back over to the actual hoofed ungulates, and let's zero in on the beautiful and striped ungulates we all know and love - Zebras. More specifically, a dazzle of Zebras from Botswana. That's right, a group of zebras is called a dazzle. A DAZZLE. Don't even try to pretend like you knew that. Anyway, this particular dazzle was collared by scientists who wanted to study their grazing patterns but, and here's where it gets wild (pun intended), they disappeared. Poof, gone. And when they did show up, they had traveled almost the entire span of the country! And, if that doesn't have you on the edge of your seat already, even stranger still, these zebras had followed a trail that zebra herds used to follow decades before but had been blocked off for the past 36 years. A zebra's lifespan is only 12. Which means unless the ghost of zebras past came back and directed this particular dazzle, down this particular path across the country, there is no frickin' way they should have known about it.
It's nuts, right?! How did they know about the trail?!
Unfortunately, I don't have an answer for you.* Because before I got to the answer, a seemingly throwaway sentence completely captivated my brain. It seems that though most zebras followed the trail to find better grass and a more pleasant existence, some stayed behind. The author, Robert Moor, explains the situation in this way: "Even among zebras, there are bold and timid individuals."
Even among zebras, there are bold and timid individuals.
This has been stuck in my brain since I read it. And I think it's because the idea of bold and timid zebras is - and I'm so sorry for such a corny use of language (no I'm not, I love it) - so very black and white.
You cannot be a zebra that has been talking about going to the other side of Botswana for 3 years but like, bills and rent and job and life have just gotten in the way, ya know?
You cannot be a zebra who gets an edgy hairdo or an eyebrow ring so that other zebras think you are bold but actually just hide under your covers all day watching HBO documentaries and dreaming about the cool life you'd have if you went to the other side of Botswana.
You cannot be a zebra who is all talk and no walk. All bark and bite. All razzle and no...dazzle.
You are either a bold zebra who risks the trail for the greener grass or you are a timid zebra that stays put and gets eaten by the lion you know. That's it. You stay or you go.
And some of you are reading this and saying, "but Lacey, we aren't zebras! We are human, there's so much more nuance and I have to keep my health insurance." And to that I say, yes, please keep your health insurance. But also no, it's not more complicated. If you're in a place where the grass is lush and the watering hole is full, then by all means stay and enjoy while you can. But there will be a time when the water dries up and there's more dirt than grass around you. And just like those zebras, you'll have to decide, bold or timid. Stay or go. No nuance, just a choice:
The dazzle that dares or the dazzle that does not?
*Okay, I found the answer because if it was me reading this, I'd be pissed to have such a cliffhanger left unanswered. Turns out, they think elephants re-blazed the trail and the zebras followed, which further confirms my suspicion that elephants are the coolest animals on the whole entire planet.