“It’s all about imperatives,” the beaver thought as he turned lazy circles in the old tub. “Biological, cultural, spiritual, it doesn’t matter where they come from, everything has an imperative it can’t avoid.“ With a flick of his webbed feet, he surged out of the tub and slid down to the mat. A quick shake and he headed for his spot by the lemon.

“It’s funny, though, how we try to ignore those imperatives. Putting off eating, ignoring the pretty girl, walking away from a problem. We all try so hard to think we have a choice. That somehow our personal decision will override the imperative and we can avoid that thing that many so clumsily refer to as destiny. It’s not destiny, it’s not fate, it’s not some cosmic plan; it’s no more and no less than our own urges, our own desires, our own need to fulfill that certain something. Sure, we have choice. We can shape how and when and where we engage the need, but the need drives us. With all the power and strength in the universe we are still nothing more than a Percheron pulling against the traces, driving forward to move us to goals that exist outside us. We merely pull without consideration for why. Some pull hard, some try to avoid pulling, some balk and rear, but coachmen never falter, never give up and allow us our own path, just drive us forward to fulfill that almighty imperative.”

The beaver rolled onto his side any peered out into the night. “Of course it’s not all bad. I for one have no desire to overthrow the coachman. Why revolt when you are going in the right direction? Freedom is such a facile concept. For some — for many, I suppose — it’s not that clear, but your energy is better spent on shaping your future, not fighting invisible forces that are so far beyond your reach that one might as well try collecting molecules and and try arranging them like figurines on a shelf.”

Outside it was one of those brilliant nights where stars and satellites twinkled and the Milky Way spread across the night sky like a thin veil of crystals blurring the lines between the tangible and unbelievable. The immensity of it all suited the beaver’s mood tonight. “I shouldn’t worry so much about things changing around me. I can adapt to whatever comes. I have choices and paths available, and this maundering does nothing but make me worry over things that will never be. Let it be.”

As the beaver closed his eyes to to beauty of of the heavens, he remembered the imperatives of others he had encountered; he remembered the yokes they had to bear and he remembered the difference between thinking you had free rein and the tragedy of running into the very imperatives you refused to acknowledge. He remembered, exhaled, curled up and slept.