Squirrels and Other Distractions

 In Annie, Facing Reality

I had no idea how universal yelling “Squirrel” is to doggie behavior. What I see happening every day in my back yard evidently is happening all around the world at almost any moment. Somewhere there is a squirrel just out of range and a canine pursuer at alert in the hopes of catching it.

The truth is the dog never gets this prey. I feel a bit cruel when I open the back door and excitedly call out the name of the specie that has totally captivated my otherwise laid-back pet. I know she will not be successful, but she still seems to relish the chase. There are four large redwoods along our backyard fence line that are evidently full of squirrels. Their highway between the trees is the fence itself.

I have to wonder if they know they are taunting my Annie. Sometimes they don’t even seem to react to her barking, but just sit, tails twitching. That drives my dog crazy. Even when they climb to the highest points on the tree, she does not budge. Her body is taut, with tail erect and seeming to vibrate, she does not move for the longest time.

I am reminded of what we know of irrational behavior. What is that definition of insanity again? It is doing the same old thing and expecting that the results will one day change. That’s my Annie, and frankly, dear Reader, I think it is true of most of us.

I can think of countless circumstances that have always managed to elude my being victorious, but still I go at them the same old way determined that this time will be different. I know Annie is dealing with instinct and breeding, as she is a pointer that for generations has helped in the hunt. I am supposed to be “above” that instinctual level, being able to analyze, re-think, regroup, try a different tack.

But lately I have begun to wonder less at my tactics, and more at why I pursue things that are not only obviously out of my reach, but I probably wouldn’t know what to do with if I were finally lucky enough to catch them. I can’t imagine Annie tearing into that squirrel, but I could be wrong. What I do know is that this tantalizing little member of the rodent family does not have much to offer in the way of a satisfying meal.

I am re-examining not my methods of pursuit, but rather my squirrels themselves. I certainly understand the old adage that where there is life there is still hope, but I find myself analyzing what it is about these elusive tidbits that have me so captivated. Instead of continuing to hold out hope of catching them, maybe my answer has been in recognizing the length of time I have pursued some of them and the absolute lack of success.

In contrast, those aspirations that have materialized over the years are those I have been able to put in my usual routine—a little every day. Especially my writing. I have been methodically putting pen to paper—or sometimes fingers to keyboard—more than half my life. I was able to do that while working, raising a family and being heavily involved in my spiritual community. And now that I am retired from formal working, I am able to draw on things I have stockpiled to get them published.

Those things I have never managed to fit into my regular schedule are the ones distracting me. I am deciding it is okay—to use the current movie vernacular—to let some things go. I have certainly lived quite well without those elusive longings. What has been difficult, is to deal with the sense of failure of not getting everything done I would like to. It has been so hard to feel good about what I have done.

So, today, a resolution is springing up in my heart and soul that I will relish what I have been able to do, and continue to do. I will not let the squirrels distract me from feeling what success I am experiencing. I know I will never be able to convince my Annie to follow suit. But then, for her much of her chasing of squirrels is her fun. I don’t really think she ever expects to catch them either. She lives for the chase.

– Shari

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