I imagine it’s what squirrels think about most of the time.
I stood at the door-wall this morning, looking out over the yard. I saw a squirrel sitting on the fence.
There I was, bath robe, pajamas, slippers, sipping a cup of coffee, staring down a squirrel on the fence.
He was looking at me, too.
He didn’t seem to be thinking about nuts.
His face was puckered. His shoulders were slumped. He seemed deep in thought. He seemed reflective. He seemed almost contemplative. He seemed, not sad, but maybe disappointed. He seemed remorseful.
I took another sip. I wondered what was happening in this squirrel’s life.
Maybe he woke up worried about finding food, with a limited supply of patience and a world of worries.
Maybe the love he feels for his family had him overwhelmed with concern about how he’s going to provide for them.
Maybe he was frustrated, overwhelmed, and unable to calm his worried mind.
Maybe his kids had been scurrying around that morning, shouting, stomping, playing rough, demanding his attention, and generally showing out in squirrelly ways.
Did he know I was watching him?
Was he actually watching me?
My eyes squinted.
His tail swished.
My brow raised and then furrowed.
I wondered if maybe his mind was somewhere else.
He took a deep breath, sighed again, and slumped his shoulders even further.
He looked away. His gaze shifted to the base of a tree across the yard. I looked over to the tree, too. A bunch of little squirrels were playing over there. They were scurrying, they were tagging one another and then running away, there were linking their tails and laughing, they were rolling in the grass, and they were peeling bark off of trees to use for shields in an epic stick-sword battle.
The little squirrels were having a great time.
He was still sitting on the fence, still slumped over and looking forlorn.
He looked at me. I motioned to the little squirrels frolicking in the yard. He shrugged his shoulders and pursed his lips. I motioned again and mouthed the words, “Go play with them.”
Even if he had been distracted and upset that morning, worrying about the challenges in his path, maybe feeling helpless and even scared, I thought it could be a good idea for him to play a while. He could gather nuts later.
Maybe some good old fashioned squirrel family fun was just what the doctor ordered. Maybe it would connect them. Maybe it would uplift them. Maybe a couple of moments of play would restore his energy and provide some renewal for a loving family of squirrels during a challenging time.
I smiled. He smiled. He leapt off the fence and joined the fray. I smiled again. Good stuff. I felt happy.
As I turned to face my day, ready to sit down at the computer for a marathon of messaging and meetings, ready to dig deep into answering, planning, collaborating, coaching, and developing, I heard a noise. It was a joyful noise. The noise was the sound of my kids playing.
I thought about the stern moments we had already shared that morning. I thought about my frustration, my worry, and my fears. I thought about how all of it came through in the form of a short fuse and sharp communication.
I thought about who I am at my best and what’s most important to me.
I marveled at the striking similarities between my experience that morning and that of the squirrel who was sitting on the fence. It was uncanny.
A thought occurred to me. I wondered if it might be a decent idea for me to play with my kids for while. I wondered if it might restore and energize me. I wondered if it might strengthen our bond.
I smiled. I set my coffee cup down. I walked past my computer, I climbed the stairs, and I played. I felt happy.
After all, I can always gather nuts later.
In it together for the kids.
Live. Love. Listen. Learn. Lead. Thanks.