SQUIRRELS ARE amazing creatures, skittish and jumpy, but incessant gathers - they never stop! They go from tree to tree, gathering. We had dozens in our 20 acre backyard in the foothills of Mount Spokane, and they taught me a few lessons.....
As you may, or may not have picked up from my bio, depending on if you chose to read it, I grew up in Spokane, Wa. It is a medium sized town, or at least was when I grew up. It had all the amenities I could ever want as a kid - The White Elephant, the regions most amazing camping and toy store with the latest GI Joe's and He-man figurines, Ron's Burgers, where you could get a bag of burgers for cheap, plenty of all you can eat buffets, (establishments I have not been to in years, thank goodness), a fantastic Minor league baseball team, the Spokane Indians, as well as Gonzaga basketball! I loved baseball and basketball. I was never able to make it to a Gonzaga game, but went to the Indians games a few times, and even caught a foul ball, something I will never forget!
WE GREW up in the suburbs and lived on 1/2 acre where we had many friends, but my parents always wanted to live on acreage in the mountains, not sure if it was what my mom wanted or my dad, maybe both, but I was all in, and so were my other 5 siblings. We went looking all over the valley, South Valley, and West Valley, out to the wheat fields, and up to the foothills of Mount Spokane. Mount Spokane, this is what I preferred and eventually, my parents settled on a pan abode cedar log home on Temple Rd, 1/2 hour outside of Spokane, driving fast. The log home was off Forker Rd, through a small canyon, then through wheat fields for what seemed like forever! Then we would pass a white chapel on a 90 deg corner in the road, about 15 mins from our house. This was the church where most of the community who went to church seemed to go, at least my fiends. Then you hit Temple Rd, the entrance to what was paradise to me, a dirt road, with lots of washboards - ribbed, and dipped parts of the road from cars accelerating uphill on loose gravel. The loose dirt and rock, would gather in nice rows, like ripples in a pond, creating a washboard, like those used long ago to wash clothes. They would shake the life out of me!
By the time we drove into our driveway, 3 miles of dirt road later, I felt shaken to pieces, but we had arrived at my sanctuary! It was an oasis in that yard, and all felt better as we coasted down the short drive and rounded the curve to our house.
I LOVED to watch the squirrels - they were fascinating to me, so graceful and speedy - something everyone I have ever met has said about me, (well, that I am speedy...but graceful..., ha!, maybe not :-). My days on the 20 acre property were filled with hiking, climbing trees and watching these amazing, giddy, nut-crazy creatures. Its on their love of nuts and how they gathered them that I want to rivet focus and draw a lesson....
SQUIRRELS PLAYED together, chasing each other up and down trees, at times becoming airborne while jumping from tree to tree. However, I noticed that they spent most of their time alone, and rarely did I find them playing. Mostly I found them diligently gathering nuts for the days nourishment and, presumably, for the cold Spokane winters. Pine nuts only appear for a short time each year, and when they came on it was all paws on nuts! They were focused and, it appeared to me, tireless in this endeavor.
It was also interesting to me that they did not just gather from one tree. I would see them jumping from tree to tree, spending over 20-30 mins gathering, then they would move to another tree and do the same thing, even though there were untouched pine cones with nuts still waiting to be peeled from their piney armor. Why would squirrels do this, I smoldered? My young mind could think of nothing plausible for this inefficient behavior. But, as I have grown, not having lost my squirrel fascination, watching them has reignited this same question- why do they go from tree to tree leaving some of the pine cones untouched.
As I have watched society, I see some amazing lessons and correlations between a Squirrels behavior and what might be, for us, a more wise way of GATHERING INFORMATION.
First, WHY DO SQUIRRELS LEAVE A TREE WITH NUTS STILL IN IT AND MOVE TO ANOTHER TREE TO GATHER?
AS and adult, with more experience and learning, I have wondered if a squirrels leaving seemingly perfect nut filled pine cones is because maybe different trees produce different quality nuts with somewhat different nutrients. Or, maybe the squirrel can sense the different flavor in the nuts each tree produces, and wants variety for the long winter, spring, and summer, until the next ripe nuts hit the high tree markets. Whatever the reasons, squirrels can teach us how to be better info gatherers.
What if we gathered information, news, philosophies, ideas, spiritual thoughts, etc, like Squirrels gather nuts? What would happen? Would we have a more well rounded perspective? Would we be deficient in ideas and thoughts from which we can triangulate the truth of a situation, a happening, or a political train track? Would we be more capable of making better decisions for ourselves and our communities if we were using a few different news outlets from which to gather our information?
Some people prefer to stay in the same tree for a long time - months or years. There are even many who get stuck in a single tree their whole lives and suffer information malnourishment. I personally like to read from the different political leanings out there - FOX & CNN, for instance. I added BBC, several years ago, just to get a different world view in there. BBC was great, until I began to notice the exact same paragraphs in CNN and BBC articles! Alarming to me, I was going to report plagiarism, until I learned that BBC had purchased CNN some months prior! Well, now I had an issue, because I could no longer use BBC and CNN together - monoculture! No longer would I get differing perspectives, and I crave that, I love different angles on things. I grow, I learn, I develop my intuition and learn how to sift truth from folly, and sincerity from manipulation. I decided to drop BBC and replace it with another new source, it has taken time, but its worth it. Madame Curie said this: "We only fear that which we don't understand. Now is the time to understand more that we may fear less."
.....YOU ONLY fear that which you don't understand...hmmm, so, in order to dispel fear, you have to arrive at a level of understanding, and in order to have real actual understanding, you have to come to the table willing to hear different ideas and actually be willing to sincerely consider them. It requires time, but then again, a well rounded education is never overvalued, and always worth the time - it leads to a more informative life and decisions. And one more insight into current affairs, it cannot be ignored anymore that there is an insidious, yet oddly influential thought in society, and its this: that for us to be protected from virus-like information, now infamously dubbed "misinformation" and "disinformation", we need those in government to help us sort that out, which would, in actuality, reduce the number from trees from which we can gather info, from many trees down to 1 tree! No thanks!
MONOCULTURE, in agriculture, leads to crop failure, biodiversity in plants and animals leads to a healthy mico-ecosystem, and dogma - single, unquestioned tenets - is, by definition, a cult. We value diversity, we value difference, we value one another, whether or not we think or behave the same. If we are truth seekers - truly seeking the truth, no matter how contrary it might run to what we initially held as true - then we will seek out differing opinions, listen to those thoughts with respect and some eagerness, and allow time and experience to do the sifting, and all this because we sincerely want to find the truth. This is preferred to those who seek only monoculture-like information - those who surround themselves only with confirming thoughts and ideas to their own. It is these who will struggle in life and cause others to suffer with them. Yes, truly, how secure and individual has to be in order to bear, and consider, a different opinion to their own. In becoming a truth seeker, and a confident, secure, hearer of different bytes of info, we are actually loving ourselves and our neighbor!
Lets follow the nut gathering behavior of Squirrels and voraciously gather information like they gather nuts from many different sources. Oh, what a squirrel could teach us!
P.S. I love all-nuts! Get Healthy!....Get Happy!