[success] Be like the bird, who Halting in her flight On limb too slight Feels it give way beneath her, Yet sings, Knowing she hath wings. –Victor Hugo[/success]
Just off my dining room is a small porch, barely big enough for two chairs. The dining room and the porch sit above the garage and driveway. My next door neighbors have a huge maple tree, whose spreading branches provide morning shade on the porch.
A few days ago, I was sitting on the porch, eating my customary breakfast of granola. I became aware of a soft thumping sound. I looked up and there was a squirrel, poised at the corner of the roof above me, eyeing me nervously. His tail was twitching furiously and he was stomping his tiny back feet, hence the soft thumping sound that had caught my attention.
I assumed he was coveting my granola and trying to think of how he might shimmy down the drainpipe and snatch a couple of almonds. But before I could react or even smile, he raised his head and leapt like an uncoiled spring into the air, two storeys above the concrete driveway far below.
I froze, mouth agape, as he sailed through the air and grasped the flimsy end of a leafy maple branch. The branch dipped under his weight and I was sure he would slide off the slippery leaves and fall. But he didn’t. He somehow managed to latch on. He scrambled up the branch to surer footing and off he raced along the aerial highway.
Not quite believing what I had seen, I stood up and looked over the edge of the railing to confirm the distance to the ground. My eyes tracked the distance from the corner of the roof across to the still trembling leaves. Surely, no Olympic athlete has covered such a distance and at such peril.
I’m still not sure what to make of it. Was this squirrel a reckless youth, defying death to get an adrenaline rush? Or perhaps he was more afraid of traveling on the ground, easy prey for cats and cars. Maybe he was a ninja squirrel, highly trained and supremely confident in his ability.
I like to think he was a Zen master, neither afraid nor arrogant, mindfully aware in the present moment, serenely trusting in the basic goodness of the universe regardless of his circumstances or the outcome of his leap, knowing that everything was exactly the way it should be. Perfect.
The image of that squirrel has stayed with me. Every time I picture his little furry self suspended in the air above the driveway, I’m infused with the energy of awe. And humility. I’ve been blessed with a gift, a model of living fully and fearlessly.
Sometimes we find ourselves in a situation where going forward means stepping off of solid ground into the unknown. We might look for other ways around, or backtrack, or just stay where we are for awhile. But at some point we know that our greatest destiny lies straight ahead, and to get there we have to jump. With no safety net and no guarantee of outcome.
So we gather ourselves up, stomp our feet to rev up our mojo, and leap, in glorious faith, into the light.
I’m really excited…this is the first time I’ve had a guest post, and it’s a beauty from Galen Pearl. She’s a real gem and always writes from the heart. I find her so encouraging and inspiring that I wanted to share her take on our world.
Galen Pearl is the author of 10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place (and Staying There), a blog devoted to helping us develop habits to grow a joyful spirit. In addition to writing, she leads workshops and discussion groups focused on increasing the joy in our lives.
Hi Galen — great story! Was once out for a walk in my neighborhood, heard a big rustling and looked up in time to see a squirrel actually fall all the way to the ground from a maple tree that was a couple storeys high. The only time I’ve ever seen that happen. It laid there stunned for a moment, and then jumped up and kept on going. Inspiring in its own way too.
Stephen, That one must not have been a ninja squirrel! Maybe an apprentice? Glad the little fella was okay. They must have more lives than a cat. Thanks for commenting.
Leaping into the unknown is pretty much a way of life I think. I balk every time, but still I jump. Coincidentally I have watched a squirrel do nearly the same thing here in my yard. I always thought it was the cats that live in my yard keeping him up in the air. I watch these little cherubs of mine carry on and be strong, I figure they are getting their strength from somewhere so I must carry on as well…
This is a beautiful post I love the way you write. <3
Jan, I might rather face a cat than leap that far so high above the ground. I guess we all pick our worst fears. And then leap, figuratively or literally. Thanks for your kind words.
Quite simply, this is a radiantly beautiful reflection! Thank you 🙂
🙂 You know, I was visualizing what you wrote – and feel amazed. It so wonderful to think of the qualities God’s creatures can teach us, when we observe them.
Incidentally, when I logged in to check email – I was surprised, thinking, hey, two posts-same title. 🙂 Then I realized that it was also same writer 😛 So good to see you, always, Galen. Your writing captures my heart, just like Elle’s.
Hugs to you both!
Vidya, You are so right. Sometimes I just sit and watch the birds and animals, here at home or at the cabin. I learn so much from them. Thanks for the kind words. I love Elle’s writing, too!
love this reflection….and food for thought. I am not like that squirrel!
I hear you! Besides that squirrel, it seems like every time I watch TV lately, someone is leaping, literally. Off a building, out of a plane, whatever. That would not be me. Taking figurative leaps seems much less scary to me than real ones! Thanks for commenting.
Yes to be fearless and have that leap of faith does not come easily to most of us but when e do finally make it, it is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this Galen
rimly, You are right. When we do leap, it is beautiful. Thanks for your comment.
Love that image- kamikaze squirrel! We could take a few lessons from wildlife. They seem to get on just fine without added nonsense.
Julie, Yes, we can learn a lot from watching the birds and animals go about their business. Thanks for commenting.
What a lovely story, and one we surely can learn by. I do believe that little squirrel just listened to that little voice in his head and did it! They are amazing little creatures that we all could learn from! Leave the peanuts on the window sill and they will come….you just have to believe!
Karen, That little squirrel was a model of self confidence! Thanks for commenting.
I find myself in the same situation as your squirrel. I’ve been having the same argument with myself this very day. And then I open up my inbox and find this post. Serendipitous? Definitely food for thought…
Teresa, I love synchronicity examples like this! Glad the story was timely for you. Good luck and thanks for commenting.
Galen’s writings, like this one, always leave me smiling at her wise, gentle reminders of the best way to live. Thank you Galen, for sharing so beautifully all the little gems that make me richer.
Myrna, Well, didn’t you just make my day with your kind words?! Thank you.
Beautifully said as usual my friend – I know that leap – have done it many times over in the last 3 years of my life – I continue to leap in faith – my most recent leaps:
1. Passing the baton of MakeGirlfriends.com to Nathalie so I can pursue my dream of writing my book.
2. Moving from the beach to downtown location (heart of downtown) in Dennis Hopper’s old living abode.
3. Letting go of a relationship….
It’s all good and my spirit soars!
In love and light,
Nancy, You are the model for taking leaps of faith. I was so impressed with your decision about your blog. Your book is going to be terrific. Can I pre-order today? Thanks for commenting.
I have seen your porch, Galen, so I can picture the scene perfectly. But, I would not have described the flight of the squirrel and our take-away lesson as well as you just did. Your writing is like a breath of fresh air in a world that seems hell bent on abandoning meaningful writing for video and one sentence texts. Stay with us, Galen.
Bob, I appreciate your kind words. Sometimes I feel like a dinosaur in this tweeting world! Your words fed my spirit today. Thank you.
Jodi, The squirrel’s lesson spoke so powerfully to me because I’m so afraid of heights! I look down! I will try to follow your leaping footsteps. Thanks for commenting.
I’m about to take a big leap of faith, Galen and your post is just what I needed to fuel the jump! 🙂
Corinne, You’ve got my attention! Are you going to tell us about your leap? I hope so! Thanks for commenting.