Saturday, January 7, 2017

Lessons From A Squirrel

The window of my office overlooks the creek. It is winter and everything is dead, brown, and the tree branches are bare. There is very little activity except for a few birds, stray cats, and SQUIRRELS.

I looked up out my window and witnessed a solo fearless squirrel. Not just any squirrel. This one stands out from all the others and I've watched his amazing feats! I will call 'him' Sam, although Sam might be a female. Because the trees are bare, I have a free and clear view of Sam's activities.

Sam runs up the side of a tree (the one in front of my window) and across the branches to the very end and jumps onto a branch of the neighboring tree. He continues running across this branch and down the trunk of this second tree, beginning again at the next tree over. I watch with utter amazement. This squirrel KNOWS exactly what he/she is doing! I have witnessed Sam's acrobatics on a number of occasions.

A 'normal' squirrel sets out to forage acorns with a purpose. He/she locates acorns in a variety of places and I have seen them dig holes in the ground to bury them. They carefully find the right spots to dig these holes, place one in (only one), and then carefully pats the dirt over it with its tiny hands. I have often wondered HOW they remember WHERE they bury each and every one! I have trouble remembering where I put things...

Sam is not concerned at all with finding acorns. Sam just wants to challenge his/her squirrel abilities by jumping from one tree to the next! 

Every so often, I come across an article about what animals can teach us. I decided to ponder what the appearance of this squirrel in front of my window was here to teach me!

  • Don't be ordinary. Do something different. Like Sam!
  • Take risks. Feel the fear and do it anyway (whatever 'it' is.) Yes, the branch might break (yes, accidents happen). Keep going and don't worry about these 'what ifs'. Live as though there is nothing to be afraid of. I know Sam is not worrying about the next Thunderstorm that will most certainly come. He is enjoying today. Although, Sam may have a diligent emergency preparedness plan set up that I don't know anything about.
  • Stay present in the moment. As I stated above, Sam reminds me to enjoy each moment with all its surprises and gifts. I am absolutely SURE he is not thinking about yesterday or the future.
  • Be curious. How far can Sam run out onto the branch without it breaking? How far can I grow with my writing? (and Toastmasters?)
  • Be playful. Take PLAY breaks. Not just any type of break. PLAY breaks! Sam is doing this activity just to do it--no other reason. There have been many days when I lost track of time while immersed in computer-related activities. Suddenly it is time to get ready for bed and I'd forgotten to... or didn't have time to... you get the idea. I'm sure this happens to you all the time, too.
  • Stay fit. You never know when you'll need a boost of strength to handle something unpredictable. I wonder if Sam is just practicing for fun or for strength and endurance. Sam is encouraging me to take more frequent exercise breaks, even if it is a few minutes of stair-stepping on a nearby stool. After all, I have read short bursts of sprinting are even more beneficial than extended cardio.
  • Be persistent. Keep trying and practicing until you get it.
HAPPY NEW YEAR! May you all be blessed with awareness of the little things in life that matter. As the professor who shows his class the mason jar with golf balls in it, make sure you take care of your golf balls. The rest is pebbles, sand, and beer!