I want you to tell you a tale of two beavers. Two very ordinary wood-gnawing, water-splashing, dam-building beavers. If you need names to tell them apart, let’s call them Beaver Lou and Beaver Pierre.
Now don’t think I’m so dense I don’t know that beavers use to work together as a family, as a team. But for the sake of this particular story, let’s say that Lou and Pierre were solitary-working beavers, each working all by himself.
This was the time of the spring rains. The river banks grew green again. The water level was rising. The stream began to flow faster again. This was the right time for a Great Work!
So this morning, Beaver Lou and Beaver Pierre wobbled out of the water onto the shore, looking for Wood. They both found themselves a nice wood-promising spot, not very far from each other, and they each began gnawing the chips away.
They gnawed and gnawed and gnawed and the chips fell and fell, all morning and into the afternoon. They both worked very hard, like beavers need to do. Gnawing and gnawing and gnawing. They were not far apart: if one of them stopped for a moment to take a breath, he could hear the other one’s gnawing nearby.
But that afternoon, while Beaver Lou still kept gnawing away happily and enthusiastically, Beaver Pierre’s gnawing slowed down. In the end, Pierre stopped completely. He sat still and sighed.
He asked himself: “Why am I doing this? What’s the point?” He felt sadder and sadder, as if he himself was a totally pointless Beaver. A failure.
Pierre looked at all those futile chips on the ground, and felt even worse, felt like a total loser. Should he stop and go home? What did it matter? Did anything matter at all?
Beaver Pierre was suffering from a sudden bout of depression.
He heard how not far away, just around the corner, his friend Lou was still enthusiastically gnawing and gnawing and gnawing away. Pierre suddenly felt very alone. He closed his eyes because the daylight suddenly was sharp and hurting.
He felt so tired and defeated. He wished he was not here but somewhere else. He wished he was asleep or something like that. He wished he had not been born as a Beaver. He wished he didn’t exist. Yes, Beaver Pierre now was very, very depressed.
– I don’t know the end of his story. When I myself walked past the traces of Lou and Pierre’s work, near the evening, both beavers had gone home. I hope that the beaver family managed to lift Pierre’s spirits from utter gloom and doom again. I hope there was a happy end.
But what had triggered that sudden bout of depression?
To show you, I took two photos.
Here is the spot where Happy Beaver Lou had been gnawing:
And here is the spot where Depressed Beaver Pierre had done his best:
Where on earth would I find music about beavers? After thorough and fruitless research, and some less desirable results, the very best I can come up with is this.
Near the town of Shidler, Oklahoma, runs a stream that is called Beaver Creek. In 1938 an abandoned power station near that creek was converted into a dance hall: the Big Beaver Night Club (admission 80 cents a couple). It soon became a success and was popular until in 1946 it burned to the ground, never to be rebuilt.
One of the most popular bands that performed at the Big Beaver Night Club was Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys. With Tubby Lewis on trumpet, they recorded a tune that was called Big Beaver after the nightclub. This record actually became a hit.
So, thanks to those nameless beavers who once built their dams in that nearby creek, here is the Bob Wills band with their 1940 dance hit Big Beaver:
• tip: You were supposed to figure out today’s tip for yourself. Hint: it has something to do with scaling your ambitions and activities in such a way that you avoid feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy or failure.
• note: I took these two photos today, when (pfff) shlepping myself through my obligatory daily anti-depression walk.