When Diverted, Make a Bridge: Lessons From Squirrels

The daily round has been beset by obstructions and frustrations this week, good reminders that change should always be expected, since we’re all transforming, every instant. But more than that, the awareness that my efforts and careful plans could be altered in a moment challenged me to either “breathe and deal,” or lapse into the comfortable role of the complaining victim. Family patterns and Irish blood allow anger to reside very close to the surface, always available for sharing when well-laid plans go awry. Blasting another’s inadequacies, vacuity, and faulty logic can bring such wonderful relief.

Living from the spirit level is so much easier to write about than to do.

Sigh.

The temptation to blame these changes on others’ incompetence is so very handy (as is a well-fashioned string of profanity), but why blame others for being human rather than perfect?

And then the real challenge becomes the introspective journey: Why would I even expect perfection of others and what do I expect of myself? How do I feel about the elements of control—and surprise—in my life? How hospitable am I, truly, to the flow of life-as-it-is? How gracious am I towards my own and others’ mistakes? Why evaluate and predicate life upon how close I and others come to perfection? And why the need to separate myself from the other in the first place? Aren’t we all in this together?

Human being is human screwing up. Homo Not-So-Sapiens. Accept it and get on with it; perhaps one day, in greater wisdom, revel in it.

We’ve been experiencing high winds more frequently this autumn. Leaves have been whipped from trees and branches have been scattered across the lawns and trails. A huge branch was partially ripped from a willow along the riverbank. I heard it crack and saw it swing downward, resting its tip upon the ground, its “shoulder joint” still attached to the trunk. In an instant, an arm that had always touched heaven now brushed the earth.

Squirrels had formerly enjoyed the views and safety of this branch, as well as the leverage it provided to those branches adjacent and above it. What I noticed within a half-hour following the storm was certainly a lesson in flexibility and adaptation to change: the squirrels now used the newly-fallen branch as a bridge between earth and the tree’s higher branches, and scurried playfully up and down the streamlined pathway.

Chaos rules; might as well accept it and adapt accordingly, with as much peace, grace, and joy as we can summon. Look for the bridges where none were before. Perhaps especially those that exist between ourselves and others. And recognize that we, like all our fellow humans-being, are doing the best we can.

There’s just this moment and we co-create what it is with what is presented to us.

 Which is what humans do.

Which is imperfectly perfect.

2 thoughts on “When Diverted, Make a Bridge: Lessons From Squirrels

  1. What a beautiful line “In an instant, an arm that had always touched heaven now brushed the earth.” I should probably carry a hard copy of this with me. I love change, mainly after it occurs. I hate change when it’s on the horizon. I need to take the moral here to heart : ) Thank you for the beautiful words.

  2. I think most (all?) meaning is created in retrospect; it’s very hard to go-with-the-flow…something I’m really trying to do: bring my response into the moment, rather than cloud and crowd the present with my anxiety. Thank you for you responses, Matt; they illuminate, as always.

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