Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Clouds and Squirrels

I like watching clouds. They are fluid, and graceful things. Higher in the sky, they stretch out as thin membranes, pure white. Lower, they are cotton balls, scuffing along. They change shapes, and become whatever the watcher sees. A mountain falls into a molehill, and becomes a whale. A dog becomes a rabbit, then races away.

Clouds are beyond our influence. We can watch them, and force images on them, yet in the end they are beyond our reach. Constantly moving, changing, and disappearing. By watching clouds, I am reminded that I should not try to control life. Life, like the clouds, constantly moves and shifts around us. It flows and changes, often beyond our control. We try to force our will upon it, and imagine that we live life. The truth is, life goes on with or without us. Life is not ours to control. We are just here for an instant in time, put on the earth to merge with the stream of life, then die.

The squirrels in my garden understand this. They're an eccentric bunch, full of attitude. They scamper around, doing what they need to do to prepare themselves for the lean months of winter. They have their stashes of food, and they make nuisances of themselves by shredding cardboard to line their nests. They throw nut shells and twigs at the neighbor's cats, dogs and people. They're vociferous in their anger. when they play, they throw their entire beings into it. They chase each other around, stand on window ledges to tease house-bound cats and dogs, and generally have a grand time.

Squirrels don't control their lives. They move with the seasons, play when they want, work when they must. They don't devote themselves to the accumulation of unnecessary gadgets.
All they do is live. As I watch them, I often wonder if they pity humans.

You might argue that they have a shorter life span, but as we humans push the envelope farther with medical science, I'm not sure a short lifespan is that bad a thing. I don't want to end my days bedridden, while everyone else decides if I'm allowed to die a peaceful, natural death. Just because we can extend life doesn't mean we should.

It all comes back to control. Humans want to control life. They want to control the quantity and content of life. They want to control emotions, events and thought. They want to cram life into boxes, label it, and time it.

Perhaps we should all take time to watch some clouds, and talk to some squirrels.

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