Lessons in control from a squirrel

Sunday morning I was sitting in my chair working on a crochet project. The house was quiet, really quiet. My Sweet is working the night shift this week and so he sleeps during the day, or at least he tries to.

I’m keeping an eye on the cat because she’s been a little demanding lately, scratching at closed doors that she thinks need opening. I’m watching her because I don’t want her scratching at the bedroom door where My Sweet sleeps.

She jumps up onto the window sill which is actually at ground level (I’m in the living room downstairs). No sooner does she nudge the curtains over her head so she can see out, but her tail starts to twitch – a sure sign something worth hunting is in her sight.

Moments later a wild and furious chittering noise erupts from outside the window. A squirrel. A very angry squirrel.

I’m worried the noise will wake up My Sweet and he has a hard enough time sleeping during the day without that racket going on. I look out the window and that squirrel is glaring at the cat, like SHE is the interloper on HIS territory.

I go upstairs and open the front door to shoo him away. He must have sensed danger and darted under the front doorstep. The fact that he is safe from me does not deter him from continuing to chirp at me from his place of safety. Apparently I am also intruding on his territory.

That squirrel, thinking that he has every right to occupy the front yard, reminds me of someone.

Me.

A couple of weeks ago, someone I care about was talking about a decision they had made. It was a decision that would affect quite a number of people and not necessarily in a good way. There was so much potential for things to go wrong that I was worried.

But I didn’t just worry. No, I fretted and stewed and kept myself awake half the night worrying myself sick about the ‘what if’s’.

What if they can’t afford it? What if this isn’t what they really want? What if it is too much for their family? What if…what if…what if…

I concocted a dozen scenarios, each one increasing in its level of harm and affect until what I was imagining was wildly improbable. That didn’t stop my mind from running away with me and taking me on a very unpleasant and, quite frankly, terrifying trip. Once I’ve gotten on the mind-train to Nosleepforyouville, I can’t get off. I ride in circles until I am physically sick, emotionally exhausted, and hungover (of sorts) the next day.

I will always be the first person to say I have control issues. And I’m opinionated. I might not always say it aloud, but if there’s something going on I’ll have an opinion about it. Be fair, so do you. We all have opinions on things, we just don’t always voice them.

The trouble isn’t so much in having an opinion, it isn’t even in voicing an opinion. The trouble is in taking ownership of a decision that isn’t mine – just like the squirrel staking claim to the front porch and yard which don’t belong to him no matter how much he chatters about it.

So why do I do it? I wish I knew. Partly, I think, it’s because I learned the fine art of worrying from my Dad. He could overthink, worry, fret, and stew like nobody else and he held a Master of Disaster Studies from the School of Worst Case Scenario. If I carry on this way, it won’t be long before the student surpasses her master. The thing is, I don’t really want to. Struggling with worry and anxiety at 2 in the morning isn’t fun and it sure isn’t productive.

For the past year or so, I’ve been trying some new things to help me give up my quest to rule the world and solve all it’s woes. Breathing techniques and meditation have helped. Intentionally practicing gratitude has also made a significantly positive impact.

Believe it or not, the squirrel helped too.

He was a wonderful little reminder that just because I want to take control of a situation doesn’t really mean that I can, or should. And I should add that a single, simple conversation cleared up a lot of the concerns I had over the situation in question. Another reminder that having an open and honest conversation was far more productive than having an imaginary conversation on a runaway train.

Who knew you could learn so much from a squirrel?

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One Reply to “Lessons in control from a squirrel”

  1. As usual, you make so much sense with your writing. I was having the same sort of problem and my doctor suggested to me last week to get a journal and each night about an hour before bedtime to write down all the pros and cons that keep me awake. He said if I had already listed them that I wouldn’t have to rehash them before falling asleep. You might try that.
    Love you! Joan

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