There are two separate inspirational stories contained in the above video. The first one is about a badger who found a dead cow in the Great Basin Desert in Utah. It had been placed there by researchers from the University of Utah who wanted to study the behavior of scavengers, but the badger didn't know that. The cow was actually a calf and only weighed 50 pounds, but the badger didn't care about that, either. Badgers are simple creatures. Unlike you and me, they know what they want all the time. What the badger saw was a pile of meat.
Now, badgers eat almost anything. In the desert, they eat burrowing rodents, and sometimes they'll store food for later by putting it in a hole. But a dead cow? No one had seen that before.
So: Consider the badger. It was confronted, as all of us are sometimes, by a windfall that was also a burden. God (or in this case University of Utah researchers) does not gift wrap our blessings. He gives us obstacles to overcome, tasks by which we must prove ourselves. Things are offered our way, not given. So it was with this cow carcass baking in the desert sun. The badger wanted to eat this cow. But it also knew the value of stockpiling resources, of saving. So he set about burying that cow.
It took the badger five days to bury the cow, according to a University of Utah press release. That's five days and nights of scrabbling in the dirt to create a hole that you gradually, inch by inch, push the dead cow into. Five days and five nights of stressing about this pile of meat being scavenged by something else, of frantic clawing and effort as you cover it with dirt. The badger was exhausted at the end of this, so exhausted that it spent the next two weeks in its nearby burrow resting. If badgers are capable of feeling aches, I'm sure it felt aches.
But if badgers are capable of joy, I'm sure it felt that, too. It had just achieved the sort of thing badger bards immortalize in badger songs. It had battled against the hard hot earth and the dead cow and time itself, run itself ragged to do the impossible, and it had done it. The reward? It could gorge itself on that cow meat, protected from birds and bugs like it was. It could gnaw on skin and bone and gristle anytime it wanted to, and it tasted all the sweeter for being earned. Life had thrown a challenge at the badger, as life will do, and the badger had risen to it. That is the payoff when you find something worth working toward and succeed: darkness, an underground sanctuary, the flesh of a young cow in your mouth whenever you want it.
Few of us are born with what we want. We suffer, we struggle, we walk the earth for long days striving in the indifferent heat. Some people work hard and never get what they want, because the world is not fair. When you go to sleep at night unfulfilled, feeling half-empty and rubbed raw by the ordinary friction of life, think of the badger, and hope—pray, if you like—for what the badger got: Not to be handed everything you want but to get the chance to earn it.
The second inspiration story contained in this video is that of Tara Christensen, one of the undergraduates who helped out on the project and the person who put together this 1:57 of drama. I assume she was also the one who slapped "Yakkety Sax" over it. It makes the whole thing really, really funny.
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