While reading my second book out in the mountains, I came across this passage:
Put three groups of rats in three separate cages, each equipped with a bar. The first group of rats got a pellet every time they pressed the bar. The second group never got pellets, no matter how often they pressed. And the third group got pellets just once in a while.
The first group … eventually gets bored with the guaranteed reward and the rats who never get treats give up, too. Bit the random rats will press on that bar forever, hoping each time they press that this time the magic will happen, that this time they'll get lucky. It was at that moment in class that I realized that I had become my father's rat.
I've always been that rat. I don't know much about those who depress the bar and get a reward. And I don't know much about pressing a bar and never getting rewarded. But in the area I am thinking of, I press the bar and at random time I get a pellet. I can't walk away.
I am describing my love life, basically. For some time, I've been really close with someone I adore. I don't get the whole thing. Unconditional love is a rare thing. She cares about me a great deal, but her own situation, and her background have conspired to keep her from plunging in. Plunging in might be a very bad thing for her to do. I haven't walked a mile in her shoes, so I won't be the one to judge.
But I do receive a caring and tenderness, and for the first time ever in a relationship, an adult partner. I don't get much time, and I don't get much attention though. I am well down on the list of priorities. There are other things I don't get either, which I won't go into here simply for the reason that I have a different point. The caring and love that I feel during those few moments when can scrounge together are wonderful.
I get a pellet sometimes.
So I keep pressing the bar frantically, hoping for another pellet.
Is this bad? Is it good? Temporary? Permanent? I don't know. But I finally have at a way to describe how I feel. I am the King Rat, pressing the bar for pellets in a grand experiment. I am wholly unable to stop pressing the bar.