Maybe the squirrel is not the problem

I started to write something along the lines of “Quit whining about everything that’s wrong with the world and set your mind free,” and I caught myself up short.

Who am I, after all, to tell other people how to live their lives? When I’m thinking straight, I refuse to “tell” other people how to live their lives, and I am no good example anyway.

All I can say — all I should say — is that when I turn away from dwelling on the stuff that alarms me and outrages me — and let’s be clear, there’s plenty of that to be found — and when I instead turn toward seeking the stuff that is good and honest and beautiful — I realize there’s a lot more of that to be found.

Who benefits from my alarm and outrage? Who benefits when I am alarmed and outraged and offended to the point of distraction? Why would someone want me distracted, as if I am a watchdog to be sidetracked chasing a squirrel?

Actually, a squirrel is not a very dangerous fellow, but apparently he is fun to chase.

What is a greater danger than the squirrel? Perhaps it is the person shouting “squirrel” and making sure I am alarmed and chasing around — you know, the person who keeps me on a leash …

This is a muddled message, I know. It’s about not listening to the people who want me alarmed and afraid and offended, and instead listening for the beauty in this life, but it’s also about watching out for the people who want me alarmed and afraid and offended, because they are the truly alarming ones.

So where I am going with this? I began by looking for a gentler way of saying “Quit whining and set your mind free,” because a free mind is in its purest state, released from anxiety and fear and anger and all that mess. Then I had to acknowledge that there are reasons to be anxious and afraid and angry, but among the biggest reasons are the manipulators who want to keep people in a state of anxiety and fear and anger.

I think the smartest dog is the one who looks back at the person who shouts “Squirrel!” to figure out what’s really going on. And then sits back down to enjoy the view.

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