Outside my study window is a wire mesh bird feeder I keep filled with black oiled sunflower seeds. The chickadees, sparrows, blue jays, nuthatches, and other birds that stop by give me enjoyment during the winter months and into spring, but the squirrels nearly drive me crazy. They gobble up the seeds, jump from the spruce trees to the roof of my trailer, scurry across the roof, jump to the tamarack, run down its trunk, and hide the seeds. This is their routine all day, every day, and the sound of their feet hitting the trailer’s tin roof is annoying, especially when I’m trying to concentrate.
One freezing cold day last month I took a break from writing. I wrapped my hands around a hot cup of coffee and listened to the squirrels. Jump, scurry, jump; jump, scurry, jump. It came to me those squirrels had more ambition than anyone I knew, including myself. The little mammals chatted with each other as they worked, and they worked from first light until dusk. I knew they worked to keep alive, but isn’t that why most of us work?
I drank my coffee and finally decided to make peace with the jump, scurry, jump. Now when I fill the feeder and find a squirrel’s tail laying on the ground, I pick it up and put it in the garbage, but instead of thinking one less varmint to deal with, I think how busy that little fellow was until he was eaten by a stray cat. So, if this story has a moral, I guess it would be that busy is good, but awareness is better. Busy keeps you alive for the short run, but awareness will give you pleasure long after the work is done.