A Love History of Guys - How Each One Helped Me Find What I Truly Wanted

guy holding record.jpg

I thought I wanted the bad boy with the hot car. Or my God, the guy with the eyes – every time he looked at me my insides turned into lava. Or the smart guy who helped me pass 11th-grade Chemistry. (Side note, it’s a good idea to pay attention to the smart ones…His wife looks super happy on Facebook.) When I went to college I thought it was the good looking Italian guy from New Jersey, who charmed me and my roommates by singing outside our dorm room window. Later when I lived in Atlanta, I dated this guy who made me laugh so much I couldn’t breathe. I thought I wanted that guy - the funny guy.

But through all of my boyfriends and friends who were guys, life would offer little glimpses of what I really wanted in a guy. My heart would nudge me to pay attention to the traits that would matter in the future. The important attributes more than fast cars, dreamy eyes or the romance of a serenade.

*Like the time a guy mowed my parent’s yard because my dad hurt his back.
*Like the guy who brought magazines and egg drop soup when I had my wisdom teeth removed.
*Like the guy who drove all night to sit with me when my dad died.
*Like the guy who stopped something awful from happening to me at a party where I never should have been.
*Like the guy who bought my lunch when I was in college, working three jobs and still broke.
*Like the guy who helped me get back home after a snow storm.
*Like the guy who sat with me in the airport before my flight to L.A. when I was terrified to host my company’s presentation.
*Like the guy who came to meet me in the middle of rush hour traffic after a van hit my car.
*Like the guy who said, “You’re a writer – I believe in you.”

The things that curl your toes and turn your insides into Jell-O will not matter when life pushes you. Yesterday, my husband’s actions reminded me of why I fell in love with him. It wasn’t that it was a difficult event or that he handled some big struggle or issue, but it was a little moment in time that captured my heart again.

I had an appointment downtown that was taking longer than expected. I texted him and asked if he could feed my meter because I didn’t have any more change and I was stuck in the meeting. At the same time, unbeknownst to me, he was on the phone with our son who was having car trouble (locked steering wheel and couldn’t get the ignition to engage – rookie mistake.) He also just hung up the phone with his mother’s assisted living facility and finished a meeting and conference call that took longer than expected. He has a stream of people with varied problems in his office every single day but he handles it with a steady, calm that I respect so much.

That’s the guy I want.

The one, who patiently guides our son, loves and cares for his mother, values and respects his co-workers, and drives the four blocks to feed my meter. Danny is funny and he is cute and he does help me in tough situations. He’s honored my parents in so many ways and he’s driven miles and miles just to see me. So when life gives you glimpses of what your heart needs, pay attention – because it’s rarely what you “think” you need.

What a Fall Festival taught our family about Palm Sunday

IMG_3491.JPG

It’s hard to think about Fall Festivals near the end of March, but I’m asking you, just for a moment to imagine that it’s autumn. It’s a beautiful fall day in October. The leaves were golden and orange and speckled with brown. A somber reminder that their time on the branch is coming to an end. The leaves quiver and rustle with every breeze curling their ends and tugging them loose. The sky held a thin, white blanket of clouds and at the same time showcased a stellar blue canvas. It was a gorgeous day for a festival. Around the edge of the parking lot, the pumpkins and gourds boasted extra colorful splashes against the weathered, decorative stalks and hay bales. There were bright red and yellow bouncy houses, a snow cone machine and carnival games. Children held balloon animals and stuffed their prizes of wrapped candy into their boots as they waited in line for the cake walk. Parents kept an eye on the kids while talking and laughing with one another. They balanced a plate of barbecue in one hand and held a water bottle in the other.

FullSizeRender.jpg

The golf course first tee was to the left of the parking lot. There were not many golfers there that day because the tree covered walkway that led to the tee off was blocked. It was lined with all kinds of animals from a local petting zoo. That’s where I found my teenagers. They had no interest in the festival food and games. They were away from the crowds, petting the animals and loving them as if they were old friends. With dirt on the bottom of their jeans my kids took turns moving around the animals. They sidled up next to sheep, llamas, goats, ponies, bunnies and a Scottish Highland Cow named Divot. They hugged the ones that would allow it and pet the ones who didn’t. But there was one animal that stood out that day and it’s the reason I wanted you to think about Fall Festivals at the end of March.

The Donkey 

Have you heard about the legend of the Donkey?

IMG_3542.JPG

I’m in my mid-forties and raised Christian my whole life.  I’ve never heard the legend before that beautiful day in October at the Fall Festival. The story made such an impact on our family that I’m sharing it with you now, just before Palm Sunday. According to legend, all purebred donkeys are born with a cross on their back. The marked fur on the donkey is a gift from God. It’s powerful symbolism is used as a reminder of the humble donkey that carried Jesus into Jerusalem.

I mean.  Chills.

How amazing and beautiful is this story?

I took pictures of the donkeys while my kids and I listened to the owner of the petting zoo recite the story. When we returned home, I had to find out more and this Bible verse appeared on my screen.

“Rejoice greatly O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem: Behold, your King is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is He, humble and mounted on a donkey; on a colt, the foal of a donkey. Zechariah 9:9 ESV)

The Bible verse is clear - “Coming to you....humble and mounted on a donkey...” The donkey signified arriving in peace. Jesus came into the city in the most modest, non-threatening, ordinary way. He rode upon a lowly donkey instead of a magnificent steed.

The legend goes on to say that the Donkey loved Jesus so much that he followed Him to Calvary. Grief-stricken by the sight of Jesus on the cross, the donkey turned away but could not leave. He wished to stay until the suffering was over because of his love and loyalty. The image was forever committed to the donkey as the shadow of the cross fell upon the shoulders and his back. Lore tells us that ever since that day, all pure bred donkeys have this distinction. The donkey carries the cross as a sign that the love of God carries a reward for all to see.

IMG_3583.JPG

Do you see how beautiful and complete this story is?  That a donkey carried Mary to Bethlehem and a donkey brought Jesus to Jerusalem? Palms waving and falling at his feet, the crowds acknowledging the prophecy of the Christ, shouting, “Hosanna in the highest.” The donkey represents the ironic beauty of God’s love. Pure and unpretentious. The King of Kings as humble as a servant.

This is why I’ve been saving this blog post since last Fall. There is so much symbolism in the changing of the seasons, the excitement of the carnival atmosphere, the ebb and flow and cycle of life. Months ago, a donkey at a festival showed us the beauty of a legend which reignited our faith. It was a gift of deeper understanding and glorious symbolism of Palm Sunday.  The Lord is the the Alpha and the Omega.  The beginning and the end.  The donkey was with Him in the beginning and a donkey was with Him in the end.







.

Bad Days are Lucky

So the other day I had to do this hard thing on my daughter, Sophie’s behalf.  It was icky and uncomfortable and mildly confrontational.  Not fun. When I was younger, (BC - before children) I didn’t mind conflict.  I’d find every elephant in the room or make one up if I didn’t see one. Now that I’m older, it’s different. I want to encourage and support and love people. Not argue or struggle. But several days ago, I had to pull up my proverbial big-girl panties and deal with it.  I did my best to cover the problem in love, use kind words and then move forward.

IMG_0542.JPG

A few days before this thing with Sophie, I faced an issue that made my heart get that weird electrical vibe when your body reacts to a mixture of humiliation and anger.  That stinging chest pain that popcorns on all the nerve endings around your heart and face.  The unexpected hurt zapped me in the form of words.  The worst kind. Those words flushed my face and pounded my heart rate into an irregular drum beat. Lopsided and heavy.  A recent acquaintance expressed prickly words directed at me.  I’m human, fearful of being vulnerable but do it anyway, and I’m a writer.  I value words and deeply appreciate their context and believe me, these words stung me on all parts of who I am.

Now I feel like I know you guys.  You are some of my dearest friends, my tribe and loyal readers. A few of you may think about sending me encouraging feedback and uplifting words (I love those messages, btw) to counteract my rough couple of days, but it’s not necessary.  I want to encourage YOU and tell YOU about something more powerful than words.

About how blessed and lucky we are that God and The Universe love to love on us when we’re feeling knocked down and rejected.

After that terrible, awkward meeting when I had to wear my big-girl bloomers and deal with a problem on Sophie’s behalf, Danny and I had lunch at a local deli. Understand that Danny and I having lunch together is a rarity in itself so that was a God wink if there ever was. But the other gift came in the form of the little girl sitting in a high chair at the table next to us.  I promise you, she could have been Sophie’s sister when she was about one-year old.  Those feathery blonde ringlets at the back of her neck, the bright, crystal sky eyes and the widest toothless grin.  That baby girl and I played peep-eye for a few minutes and her breathy, happy, giggle delighted me.  I felt like I was transported to a simpler time, making my own little girl laugh and smile.  That sweet baby even tossed her sippy cup on the floor and looked at me with expectant eyes to pick it up for her.  I know a lot of babies play this game, but for a moment, I slipped through time and it was my baby Sophie.  I was grateful for the gift.  I drove home with tears slipping off my cheek because it felt like God was letting me know that I did the right thing.  I was looking out for my daughter by having that difficult conversation.  I did what mother’s do.  I protected her as if she were still an infant.

But wait. There’s more.

Let’s revisit the electrified, hurtful words - the part-two of the story from the new acquaintance.  I had been mulling it over for awhile.  Bringing it up to Danny at odd times so I could efficiently rehash it.  Discuss it.  Verify for the 87th time that I was reading the person’s words exactly as they were intended.  

The 88th time was one night after dinner.  Danny was in the recliner, feet up, one dog in his lap, glasses resting on the bridge of his nose about to open his latest good read.  I broke the silence and said, “It makes me not want to get out of my hermit shell.”

He sighs, moves his legs so they cross at the ankle, takes his readers off and turns to face me.  He knew where this was going. “What’s that?”

“It makes me not want to meet new people.  Stay to myself like I did for so many years.  Not leave the house. Shell up.  Become like turtles.”

“You’re going to let the words of one person keep you from going out and meeting new people?”

“No. I. AM. NOT.  I’m just saying that it makes me *feel* like staying away from people. And *those* words of *one* person as you say, HURT me.  So if it’s okay with you, I want to circle the wagons for awhile. Stay in. Alright?”

He nods, holds up his hands in surrender. “Okay. I get it.”

Just then.  (I pinky-promise this happened.) I got a text message from a friend that I had not seen in a month of Sundays.  It had been forever.  She asked if we could meet for lunch and bring our husbands.  I looked up from my phone and said, “Babe.  We’re going out with our friends.  We’ve just been invited to lunch and you know how much fun we‘ll have with them!”

Danny failed miserably at crushing his grin and said “What’s that?  No circling the wagons?  No turtle-ing up?”

How lucky and blessed are we that God is like an Echo dot?  He hears everything but not in a weird, electronic way.  He saw that I was retreating and falling back into my old flight pattern.

Avoid tough issues. (Beats wings.)

IMG_0541.JPG

Avoid uncomfortable feelings.  (Beats wings harder.)

Instead of focusing on the positive - my supportive friends, tribe and readers - I was focusing on this one small speck.  This one grain of sand even though I was standing on miles of glorious beach. Focus on the good, more good comes. Focus on the positive, you won’t stay negative for long. Bad things and words are going to happen but we can’t let it be where our heart and eyes settle.

Sometimes we’re lucky when we have bad days, because then we can experience all the good that comes from it: Gifts from above that remind us we are loved and friends who are angels at all the right times.

Comfortable in the In-Between

IMG_0532.JPG

It’s cold.  Everything outside my kitchen window appears dead or frost bitten.  My entire backyard is the color of bird seed.  Which reminds me, we need to restock the feeders.  The squirrels must be hungry.   (Huge eye roll from my last post.) We’ve had the slightest skift of snow.  The yard has a delicate, twinkling white powder dusted on the tips of withered leaves and dormant grass.  Maybe my yard looks more like Frosted Flakes than bird seed.

Waiting for the sink water to warm, I’m bundled in mismatched wool socks, sweat pants and a sweater.  My winter, around-the-house clothing makes me look like I’m 84.  I keep a tissue tucked into my sleeve so I’ve basically become one of the Golden Girls.   I don’t have a cold but I sneeze all day.  It must be winter allergies and all the time spent indoors.  I’m closed up with the dust and frankly, I feel a little dusty myself.  Perhaps new air filters or more frequent use of Pledge would help.

I can’t seem to warm up.  After removing dinner, I’ve been known to crack open the oven door and stand in front of it, rubbing my hands together as it cools.  My husband can remember his grandmother doing that sort of thing.One small step with a walker and I’m Sophia carrying around a pocket book. 

During this bitter cold day it’s inconceivable that my 14 year old daughter drifts into the kitchen, dressed as if she’s spent the afternoon off the Florida coast.  She glides her finger around the inside edge of a bowl I’m stirring then licks it off with a smack.  I watch her lean against the counter.  Her cheeks look warm, her hair is in a pony tail and nothing covers her long legs but gym shorts.  I meet her eyes, bright and sparkling like the iridescent snow.  “Put some clothes on.  You’re making me cold looking at you.”  My mother said that sort of thing, so at least now I’ve moved back one generation from Golden.

In January, all the days blend into the next one.  In my opinion, January has no sense of accomplishment other than taking swings at our resolutions and collecting financial data for Income Taxes.  January is not the most exciting month.   It’s when big companies send a few of their employees to trade shows in sunny destinations.  Their morale will get a boost and they’ll come back with an uneven tan, wearing ball caps and flowered shirts and pump up the rest of the team.   Maybe all of our resolutions have collapsed by mid-January.  Maybe we have zero motivation to gather tax paperwork or go to the gym so we end up scrolling Facebook and Googling random facts to appear productive.  Like whether or not you can burn calories by trying to stay warm.  Don’t bother.  I did it for you.  Not until you shiver.  Shivering burns calories. 

There’s no specific event in January.  Something to do where we can feel a sense of accomplishment.   Since last October, there was something *to do* every month.  A plan had to be in place to cram every, single event into your schedule.  But in January, we end up easing into the year, rolling off the couch from our Tryptophan and Glucose induced coma.  We lose the “Fired Up” punch of the first days of the year and start to think it’s too cold to go to the gym. I mean, there’s snow on the edge of the grass for Pete’s sake.  And apple pie for breakfast is okay because it’s basically a fruit filled pop tart.  Same diff.

January is a bluesy month.  One icy, wintry day after another. The freshness of the new year melts and refreezes into a couple of weeks of blah.  No more chestnuts on an open fire.  No more champagne and countdowns.  January feels like it’s going to start off strong but by the midway mark we’re just cold and cooped up.  And sneezing.  It’s the month of either/or.  EITHER it snows a blizzard and I have an excuse to stay in pajamas all day.  OR it warms up and I can venture outside and go for a walk without looking like Frankenstein doing the box step. One of those two events needs to happen or I’m going feel blah. 

Oh, Eleanor you poor thing. 

A circumstance needs to change so we won’t feel down.  What are we millennials? (I’m kidding.) If you were raised anytime before 1983 you know that sitting around thrumming your fingers on the table and staring out the window was okay for about 15 minutes but then you better do something to make yourself productive or your parents would help guide you to that end.  Waiting for someone else (or an event) to make a situation better for you was preposterous.  Are we the last of the generations that still expects something from ourselves?  We have to be productive!  Need wood? Go chop it.  Need money? Go work for it.  Need happiness? Give it away since that’s the fastest route to completely BLISS out. 

But you’re not feeling it, are you? 

Your body and mind are having none of that positive energy, go-getter nonsense.  If you’re not feeling love for yourself, how can we expect you to scrape together enough sunshine for someone else? You want your ambition back, but it’s buried under 14 layers of mismatched clothing and a bowl of chili.  All of your drive, love and desire escaped you.  But, my friend, my reader, I promise...It’s a season.  A wave and you have to be brave enough to ride it out. 

It’s possible that right now, in the middle of January you just don’t feel it. You’re cold.  You’re hibernating and you’re doing the minimum because your nose is red and you’re out of tissues.  It’s okay.  Forgive yourself.  Be kinder to your unproductive self.  Beating yourself up will not improve your morale.  Be a better friend to the the person in the mirror.  If you’re fogging up the glass, you still need to be here and you have a purpose to fulfill. You’ll come around.  You’ll push through.  Your insides will warm again and you’ll discover your fire, sparking all that wonderful, crazy incentive.  Be gentle with yourself.  We’re on a journey.  We can do this.

January is an in-between month and it’s okay for you to feel in-between too.

What If The Story Isn’t About Squirrels?

It was the most ordinary Thursday morning.  Chilly.  Early December maybe.  It rained overnight and the road was slick with iridescent swirls of oil and water.  There were leaves matted to the street and a few branches were scattered on the ground.  I drove over all of them on my way out of the subdivision, unnoticed until I’m replaying it in my mind and describing it to you now.  At the time I had other things on my mind which distracted me from noticing the details of my drive.  But like a security camera that records the mundane, sometimes there’s more to see when reviewed.

The sun stretches its first warm arms through the clouds and glows pink orange on the horizon.  It’s still dark, but there’s promise that it’s going to be a gorgeous late Fall day.  My headlights shine on the curve in the road and reflect off the fog.  There was a mist of slow moving ghosts.  A chill runs through me and I tap the arrow button on the heater.  When my eyes returned to the road, I see a squirrel in the middle of it.   There was something in the center of the road holding his attention.  I slowed.  Was it a pile of leaves?  A fallen branch?  The squirrel hopped back and forth in front of whatever it was.  Darting from side to side, it seemed unsure of what to do next.  My car downshifted to a crawl as I met the obstruction in the road.  A broken tree limb must have fallen during the overnight storm and lying next to it was a dead squirrel.  The other squirrel hopped away from my car’s approach but waited by the side of the road.  Sitting on it’s haunches, the squirrel’s head bobbed.  It’s front paws busy and frantic.  Its tail twitched and snapped.

IMG_0530.JPG

There was nothing for me to do.  The squirrel on the curb was obviously in distress over the loss of the other one.  The squirrel’s partner was not injured.  It was dead so there was no need for me to jump into rescue mode and make a trip to the Emergency vet.  Would I do it for a squirrel anyway?  I mean, it’s a squirrel.  Would I try to save it if I could?  I don’t know.  I might have.  I sat back in my seat after I realized that I had been hunched over my steering wheel, gawking at leaves and dead wildlife.  I strategically moved my car around the limb and the squirrel.  I’m not even sure why I did that.  Was I paying respect to a dead squirrel in the road?  Was I driving away slowly to let the living squirrel know I was sorry for his loss?   What made me so solemn?  What made me even care?

When I glanced in the rearview mirror, the squirrel ran back to the center of the road and hopped around its friend lying near the fallen branch.  I’m not sure why seeing this broke my heart.  I was saddened that a creature had lost it’s teammate and friend.  The squirrel appeared baffled, completely lost without his mate.  He circled the branch and his friend.  Around and around.  Almost as if he were waiting for his squirrel friend to shake off the stun of the fall, then pop up and join him on the other side of the road.

My LORD!  What am I doing?  Why am I thinking about this?  Why am I writing about it now? They’re only squirrels after all.  Rodents.  Nuisances.  Why do I care about two rats with bushy tails?  There are about a million of them in our world. We’re overpopulated.  With this one dead, we’d have one less squirrel to worry about, right?  But I don’t feel this way.  I’m depressed that one of the squirrels died and the other hasn’t come to grips with the goodbye.

There’s so much irony and hypocrisy in this story I’m sharing with you.  I believe it’s the main reason I feel compelled to write about it.  There are squirrels we are trying to get rid of in our attic and I do not care about their lives.  Isn’t that statement just awful?  We have one in particular that scratches and digs and works diligently on his nest right about the time I’m falling asleep.  It’s probably the same one that I see sitting on my gutter when I come home from work.  He’s near the vent in the attic, chewing on a hickory nut, leaving discarded shells on my driveway.  He peers down at me like, “Oh, you’re home.  How was your day?”

My husband and I have discussed putting our Jack Russell, Cinna, in the attic long enough to chase the squirrels out of there.  Possibly to kill, but more likely to scare so that they won’t come back.  But our dog, although she is quite the hunter in our backyard, has the intelligence of a pile of our recently removed, stained carpet.  We decided against putting her in our attic for fear she would miss a step in her squirrel pursuits and fall through the ceiling.

We’ve also entertained the idea of my husband grabbing his old rifle and shooting the squirrel.  That thought was fleeting for me since the gun hasn’t been fired in years, nor has it been recently cleaned.  Also I don’t want to hire roofers to patch a blown out hole and even then, probably still have a squirrel in my attic.

We’ve thought of setting out poison, but I’ve heard that hawks and owls who capture prey and feast on the poisoned animal suffer a miserable death too.  We’ve considered  hiring a professional critter remover, but for some reason we don’t do it. And that reason is probably cost.  Have you ever priced a critter removing service?  Cha-Ching.  It’s probably cheaper to host a baby shower AND throw a going away party for the new squirrel parents and their litter.

So if I’m willing to rid my attic of squirrels and spend my time figuring out how to permanently remove them, then why do I care about the one in the road?

I thought about this question all day.  I came up with an answer, but I’m open to more ideas if you have them.  Here’s my take on it.  The squirrels in the attic (not toys, thank you Aerosmith) are an annoyance to me.  They live within my space.  They’re not welcome in my home or in the nearby trees.  The squirrel that sits on the roof of my house and seems to wait for me to come home, along with all of his little squirrel relatives are nothing but squatters.  What would my actual invited human guests think if I told them we had a “minor” squirrel problem?  I run through the exchange in my head.

“We’re trying to do the right thing with them.”  Our guests nod slowly, trying not to reveal disgust.  “We’re going through the process you know?  It’s a system.”  We click our tongue and shake our head in solidarity. “Tsk Tsk.”*

Squirrels are not in the same bracket as our friends who visit.  They are completely different from my other, upright, two-legged next door neighbors. The ones who mow their grass, wave at me across the fence and grill on Saturdays.  The squirrels who nest in my attic and live in my trees scatter when I throw open the back porch door.  Our dog bounds off the deck barking and announcing her chase before she even sees them.  The squirrels who live closest to me, the ones who made an apartment in my rafters - are the ones who disturb my peace and tranquillity.  They must go.

But the squirrel mourning its partner in the middle of the road tugs on my sympathetic heart.  *That* squirrel has a life, a heart beat and a delightful personality.  He has his own community (away from me and down the road) where he lives, eats and spends the day caching nuts and trinkets. That squirrel (over there) has emotions and distress.  That squirrel (separate from me) experiences loss.  Since my life is apart from the squirrel and his life, it doesn’t affect mine.  The squirrel’s life, skittish and jumpy that I drove around on my way out of the subdivision, somehow has more value than the ones on my back porch. I can acknowledge it’s life’s worthiness from a distance.  My perspective wears lenses of compassion and sympathy.

ALL DAMN DAY, I thought about this squirrel, running back and forth across the road trying to believe that his partner was just stunned and would hop up and join him on the other side of the road.  Literally, ALL. DAY.  This squirrel was on my brain.  Can you guess where my thoughts travelled next?  Have you connected any parallels in my story?  Here...Let me help.....WHAT IF I change the squirrel imagery and make it human?  What if the squirrel becomes a person?  Let’s make him, umm, I don’t know...

Any race different from you? Hispanic?  Black? Indian? Any lifestyle different from you?     

Gay? Poor? Homeless? 

Let’s make him human, but one with a different lifestyle.  I know what I’m asking you is a stretch.  It is on the weird side, but if we can alter our reality and believe for a moment in District 12, Alexandria, and a galaxy far, far away- you can hang with me on this squirrel analogy.

Does your heart break when you see a person *not like you* experience tragedy and loss?

If a man who *is not your same race* has been shot in the street, are you saddened to read the news?  If these humans, *different from us* live and work and play at a safe distance - *somewhere else* they’re okay, right?  If they’re in someone else’s community, their lives have no affect on us.  We can *safely* sympathize with their loss from far, far away. 

It challenges our position when these different humans move in close to us and blend into our communities.  When they move into our space and push on our imaginary safe bubble that’s when we lose our sh*#.  Our inner sanctum...our life as we know it is jeopardized and everything around us is questioned.

If, for discussion’s sake, I make the squirrel a human, what changes?  

If the human lives away from you, does anything change?

If in the story, I bring the human close to you and your way of life - how do you react?  (Not living in your attic, ‘cuz, that’s just creepy.) Just imagine them in your part of the world.  Your new next door neighbor or the hired employee assigned to your department.  If the human has a different way of life than you, what is your sympathy scale when they are close?  When they are far away?

That’s the parallel.  That’s the thing that crawled into my mind and took up residence...ALL DAY LONG.  I’ve thought about how heartbroken I was watching one squirrel’s grieving process but also in the same day trying to remove a family of them from my home.

That’s where compassion meets inconvenience.

Why is it easier to have sympathy for life when it doesn’t inconvenience you?  I think it’s because you don’t have to do anything.  It’s only a thought.  You *thought* about having sympathy for this person.  You *thought* about them for a few minutes, then felt better about yourself because you paused your life long enough to give them your time.  You don’t actually *do* anything about it.  THINKING is not DOING because you’re not PLANNING anything.  You move on with your day after the appropriate number times you expressed “poor thing” and “that’s just awful.” No skin off our a$$.  No real time or emotional investment. Just fleeting thoughts without action.

UNLESS the tragedy affects us and it’s nearby.  Then BAM - all of a sudden we’re researching solutions, volunteering, and rallying the community.  Depending on our position, we ask for donations or encourage our neighbors to install security systems or clean their guns.  We’re shutting people out while we’re letting some in.  We’re contacting our Senators.  We’re discussing it with our coworkers, but only the ones who agree with us.  We’re teaching our children about differences instead of similarities.  We do ANYTHING we can to avoid THE PEOPLE - THE DANGER - THE SQUIRRELS who are different from us.  Why can’t they just live somewhere else?  They can have their community and we can have ours.

I believe the reason is that humans and squirrels (figuratively and literally) ARE the community. Our willingness to embrace differences or protecting ourselves from those differences does not change community, only our participation in it.  Community exists whether or not you want to be a part of it.  Being *a part of* or *apart from* is your decision but community will still be there if you change your mind.  Community doesn’t want to change your family’s values, but it does acknowledge that not all family’s values are the same.

 And I got all of this from a dead squirrel in the road and a family of them in my attic.

 ******************************

Thanks for reading!  

Please enjoy this 3 minute video of a mother squirrel trying to get her baby in our attic...

(Part of it is heartbreaking because the baby is too big to carry, and he’s unable to jump with his mom.)