We Are All That Squirrel
We judge what we don't understand.
Last month, before the weather turned, my husband and I were sitting on our little deck sipping coffee.
Now, if this sounds like some kind of relaxing, romantic ritual we share, let me wipe that cute little image away. Because, neither of us can usually sit still in the garden for longer than five minutes before we begin tinkering with something.
He is usually photographing a random bird and I'm usually deadheading a random flower. But that day, we were actually sitting still. And as I took in the sights in front of me, I noticed a squirrel climbing up the sunflowers.
As our little friend ascended the stalk, it made its way toward the flowers themselves. But the flower stems couldn't support the weight and squirrely went flopping over and landed on the ground. This happened a couple times before I exclaimed, "look at that ridiculous squirrel! What does he think he's doing?"
Without missing a beat, my husband, the animal whisperer, calmly says, "he's gathering food for the winter because sunflower seeds are really high in fat."
"Right. Of course he is," I respond with a smirk. And in that moment, I better understood the human condition.
We judge behaviors that we don't understand.
And we judge the people (and apparently animals) that exhibit those behaviors. But just because we don't personally understand them, doesn't mean that there isn't a damn good reason for those behaviors. Now I was pretty sure I already knew this, but nothing hits the point home better than finding yourself judging a backyard squirrel on a balmy Saturday morning.
The reality is that most of our behaviors have very valid reasons behind them, even the ones that don't make sense to other people or even ourselves.
Many are passed to us genetically and behaviorally through our cultural and familial lines. Many are conditioned from early childhood experiences. Many of them are adaptive responses to old traumas or challenges. But there ARE reasons. And sometimes pretty good ones, like the equivalent of gathering our winter sustenance.
We are all that squirrel.
And, at times, we are all me judging that squirrel.
May we pause long enough in life to also be the me that saw the error of my perceptions and assumptions. And may we be lucky enough to have someone kindly set us straight, when we need a little help.
*Not the actual squirrel. Identity has been changed to protect the innocent.