Sunday, January 22, 2012

Squirrelly Wisdom

During a recent meditation, my eyes opened of their own accord to witness a bit of backyard drama.

Two squirrels played, one chasing the other through the tall trees. As I watched, the forerunner rushed onto the tip of one slender winter-bare branch and, without hesitation, hurled himself across a particularly large expanse of nothingness. Front paws barely snagged the skinny twig~branch of the adjacent tree, his weight bending it low. Body doubled over and hind legs strained until they, too, found the branch. He righted himself and scampered on. I was impressed.

Terror, however, appeared to be the reaction of the second squirrel as he contemplated a similar leap. The little guy stepped gingerly to the end of the first branch, his very caution causing it to reach for the ground~~and him to hightail it back to a steadier perch. Several times he tried, always pulling back at the last minute. Attempts from other branches yielded similar results. The furry creature was paralyzed by fear when boldness was called for.
Many of us can relate. As we contemplate this new year, we recognize the leap into the unknown it requires of us. What branches will catch us as we propel ourselves into our future? How do we find the courage to leap into the gap and to live there until our own feet find a new resting place?

Being fully alive, flinging oneself into the unknown, feels risky to our mortal brains. But clinging to branches that have outworn their usefulness, holding to old patterns and ways of being that no longer serve, is not what we’ve come here to do. We have been given precious life. It seems fitting to use that gift to grow what may now exist as mere potential.

And to do that, to bring forth this raw material lying deep within, requires courage. My two fuzzy friends, in all of their squirrelly wisdom, knew something that we, too, instinctively know. To make it to the next branch, we must let go of the one on which we stand. We must leap into the void. This was the truth being played out in my very own backyard. 

After a minute or two of scrubbed attempts, the terrified squirrel raced to the end of the branch and leapt into the air. Suddenly. Beautifully. Magnificently. I gasped as he flew across the chasm, and then let out a hearty cheer as he landed safely and, incidentally, with greater grace than his more experienced friend.
As we move into yet another year, I am reminded of a quote often attributed to the German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. “Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.”
Of course, leaping without wisdom is foolish. We must size up the situation, summon our intuition, explore the options available to us. Yet there comes a time when we just need to go for it, to leap into the unknown, trusting that we will land as we ought. The first squirrel knew this. The second one learned it. Their display is an encouragement to us all to gain proficiency in leaping and in trusting the wisdom of our own sweet souls.
Whatever lies within you waiting to come out, let it rise up. Leap into the void, even though you know not the treasures or challenges that may come.           
I end this with a squirrel~inspired prayer. May all your leaps be wise and bold. And may the next branch catch you always and hold you safely until another leap calls.

Loanne Marie

PS. For those quotation wonks out there (like me!), you will find more on the origin of the boldness quote here. It seems it wasn’t by Goethe after all~~or not really!



monica wood said...

As a lifelong squirrel watcher, I LOVED this one, Loanne. A pure, pure delight to read. Thank you, my friend. xoxoxoxoxo

Sam said...

There's a children's book in this if ever I heard one. My heart lept as Squirrelly Two took the plunge......and made it. A gem of a piece. And what an added boon -- the quotation site. I know the quote well, remember in used by the Himalayian leader, and am still not quite sure why it's not attributed to Goethe if it came from Faust. But alas, I don't read German so don't know how made up it is or not. In any case, it speaks a truth.

Loanne Marie said...

Whether an "inventive paraphrase" or "very free translation", I can only guess that Goethe would be thrilled by the impact of his words.

Thanks for reading and for writing!

Claire said...

To transform this simple squirrel wonder to our own leaps is inspiring, Loanne. You truly have an eye that sees from the heart. Thank you for this image!

Loanne Marie said...

You are quite welcome, Claire. But heh, I was just sitting there, minding my very own business a'meditatin', when my eyes were opened and pulled to those two fuzzy souls. I'm not sure I had much to do with it except, of course, in having learned not to rigidly continue with my appointed meditation plans when wisdom was offered me in my very own backyard!

Thanks, as always, for reading and for writing!

And thanks, too, to squirrel~lovin' Monica (first comment above) for your comments as well!

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Leia Marie