Lessons from a Squirrel

by
Ann C. Schauber

IMG_5107As I peer outside my living room window, I watch a squirrel run up and down our oak tree with ease. She runs out on a limb and I cringe as the limb bends heavily from her weight. Undaunted, she jumps to the limb on the next tree, seemingly focused and carefree. Off she goes into the woods, out of sight, and clearly living her life with purpose.

There are times I find that squirrel to be quite annoying. I discover a hole that she has made in our deer fence. It is not just a little hole for her to squeeze through. No, she’s opened up an entire area up and down the trunk of the adjacent tree, so she can jump from anywhere on the trunk through the fence and into the yard. Clever, yes, but now the deer can get in too! I know that she does not know how much that annoys me. And I can only guess how much the fence annoys her.

I know that I unintentionally annoy others and they annoy me, just as the squirrel and I have annoyed each other. Does the possibility of disrupting the comfortable routine of others get in the way of me living my purpose each moment, each day? Am I even clear on what my purpose is? I know I am not the same as this squirrel. I can’t run up and down a tree. (I sometimes wish I could, though; it looks like fun!) A squirrel lives in the out-of-doors and spends each day focused on survival. I live in the luxury of my home, warm and cozy and not as focused on survival as intently as the squirrel. I have the freedom to choose what I want to do with my life. I have the opportunity to thrive in different ways.

What makes people thrive? I think they feel alive with a sense of purpose, living the life that they were born to live. I thrive when my inner and outer life is integrated. I listen to the gentle inner voice that whispers to me about what I need to be and do, to live my life fully.

Do I always live intentionally from my purpose? No, sometimes I get off track. I can spend hours playing computer games. Especially when life gets challenging. One of my challenges is that I am a peacemaker, and annoying others is upsetting to me. I easily go into judgment of myself when I have upset someone else.

As I sit and digest the upsetting interaction, that quiet inner voice whispers and reminds me to suspend my judgment and move into compassion for myself. I listen. I slowly let it go. I clean up my messes and I begin again. Like the squirrel, I go back to being focused and living the life I was born to live.

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