About five years ago, an albino deer was spotted in our town. With no commerce, two small schools, and one traffic light, the deer’s unique beauty quickly became the talk of our small community. What we do have in abundance though are deer. Deer are everywhere! It’s inevitable that almost every morning you will drive past several deer carcasses along the main road, and there’s some odd relief when you realize it’s not the albino deer. Every winter, there’s a weekend-long cull to help control the deer population. It largely goes unspoken, however, it’s always a relief to see the albino deer once again after those weekends. As if some faith in humanity is restored because we like to believe the deer’s life was spared because of its uniqueness. It would be like killing a unicorn!
Last year, after spotting the albino deer some weeks after the winter’s cull, and breathing a grateful sigh, something occurred to me. We, as humans, feel good about ourselves, knowing we have “saved” the life of this deer, “allowing” it to live on so we can marvel at its majesty. My perspective then shifted to that of the deer. Perhaps this deer wonders why every deer it’s ever known and traveled with – its family, friends and acquaintances – have all been shot. Year after year, she survives, never knowing why. She has perhaps never even seen her reflection to know what makes her unique. She was never alone, so perhaps the other deer never told her she was different. The last time I saw her, she was with her fawn. That was a beautiful moment. Not only was she alive, she now had a family of her own. Would they too be taken from her by human choice in a few years because they didn’t also possess her unique trait? Are we sparing her life allowing us to feel better, assuming she is incapable of feeling sorrow? Perhaps she feels like a pariah. What I do know is that when I see her, she makes me smile. What I don’t know is that she may be the saddest deer in the world, wondering why her sadness seemingly brings so much joy to us humans.