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Oh, look. It’s another one of those cute photo series of animals, sent to me from a friend. It’s true, these are amazing photos: A deer comes to a residential yard every morning to greet and spend time with the homeowner’s cat. Every morning!

Being an animal lover, I have to admit that I linger over each photo in the series, marveling at the communication between these two animals, one wild, one domesticated. A communication that I do not understand, but want to.

I quickly forward the message to my list of animal-loving friends, and go to hit “delete” to clear it off my list and move on with the real business of my life.

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My son happens to pass by just at this moment. He stops to take a closer look, and says simply, “Romeo and Juliet.”

Really? Did I miss all that?

What he apparently sees is a deep friendship between members of two species so different that their interaction could potentially cause big problems. An ill-fated romance of true, pure love that can, tragically, never be, because, well, a deer and a cat are different. Too different. Like the Montagues and the Capulets.

Why is this photo series so fascinating? Why don’t we see different species of animals interacting like this in our daily lives more often? Why do some animals do this, but most don’t? Is it an unnatural mutancy, or is it a common occurrence that we simply aren’t privy to in the wilds of nature? Should we assume it only happens when someone can capture it on film?

Or should we assume that it happens all the time?

Humans can take lessons from animals on how to see and experience friendship and love despite differences, so maybe that’s why this kind of message get posted and forwarded and messaged around the world: Because we all, instinctively, want people of different backgrounds to get along.

For me, the takeaway here is that my son’s gut reaction caused me to consider this photo essay in a more thoughtful light than I would have otherwise learn academy. And that difference – the different views I have from my child’s – are included in the idea that we all CAN be friends, even if we don’t see everything (even a simple photo essay!) in the same way.

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I will now do my best to view this and other messages that come my way from my brand new “deer” perspective along with my regular “cat” perspective.

Incidentally, the photo series came with a message that says

Those we love don’t have to be exactly like us. Life is too short!


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