Reading time: 2 minutes[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.