Did you know that a squirrel’s teeth never stop growing? So they constantly gnaw on trees to keep their teeth from literally growing through their necks!
There are more than 200 species of squirrels and almost all of them stay profoundly connected and reliant upon their particular scurry. They sploot—release body heat—into the environment. They do this particularly when it is excessively hot because while humans can escape to air conditions homes, a squirrel has nowhere to go. They spread their entire bodies as close to the ground as possible and dissipate their body heat into the environment.
Interestingly, there are also several well-documented studies that prove they remember every—yes, every—human they have ever seen. They often stand up and stare directly into a human’s face to determine if they are a threat or safe. My dad was apparently a very safe human as squirrels would come and eat nuts directly from his open hand.
We humans have so much to learn from squirrels. As I studied them, I found myself asking questions like, “What is my equivalent to ‘teeth that never stop growing’?” And, “What is my ‘tree’ to keep my ‘teeth’ in check so that they don’t cut my throat?
Truth be told, often throughout my life, the honest answer for my ‘tree’ would be some sort of addiction ranging from obsessively working, care-taking or taking too much responsibility in relationships, alcohol, and exercise. It took a few close calls with those gnarly teeth before I began turning more to nature and into deeper connections with myself, others, and God.
Frederick Buechner puts it this way, “The best moments we any of us have as human beings are those moments when for a little while it is possible to escape the squirrel cage of being ‘me’ into the landscape of being ‘us.’”. from Beyond Words
Native Americans put it this way, “The opposite of addiction (from anything we over use) is not sobriety. The opposite of addiction is connection.”
We humans are hardwired for connection—being an us instead of an I. When we take time to remember the people of our lives assessing both the ones who have proven to be unsafe as well as those who stretched out a kind hand of love and compassion. I’ve had a plethora of both splattered throughout my life.
When we don’t take time to be still and remember and huddle with our scurry, we seek something to numb the pain of that loss. We sploot in an effort to release the burning flame of that loss.
I would love to hear the stories of your ‘teeth’, your ‘tree’ and your ‘scurry’.
Love, your sister along the journey,
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