Most mornings, rain or shine, I take Hannah for a little walk about the neighborhood. This morning it was absolutely gorgeous out – the sun was shining, it was warm, but not too warm, and birds were singing a happy song.
We were about a third of the way through one of our typical routes when there was a rustling overhead. I didn’t bother looking up – I figured it was a bird or squirrel, but I was watching Hannah, laughing at how focused she was on what was happening overhead and asking her what was up there. Imagine our complete and total surprise when a squirrel dropped to the ground right in front of us.
Hannah was completely stunned – it was as if the heavens had opened up and given her more than she could ever imagine, even in her wildest doggie dreams. Fortunately, I took advantage of her shock to grasp the leash a little tighter and brace myself once she came to her senses and went after it.
The squirrel got away (and my shoulder’s a little sore from being pulled across the grass), but as the day went on, I couldn’t help but think about the little guy. What made him fall? Was he doing something stupid? Was he trying to get away from something? Was he tired and groggy after a late night of seeds pilfered from someone’s bird feeder or garden? Did he make just one bad decision that had horrible repercussions?
Here’s the thing. Sometimes I’m Hannah and things happen that are exciting and wonderful and beyond my wildest dreams. I’m stunned and amazed and feel blessed beyond measure. But sometimes I’m the squirrel. I’ve been tired, in a hurry to do something, made a mistake, made a really bad decision and suddenly found myself in big trouble. I’ve tried to avoid pain and heartache and have ended up being hurt anyway. I have fervently prayed that I wouldn’t fall, only to crash anyway and find myself in a terrifying mess that I never saw coming and for which I was ill prepared.
What I admired most about the squirrel was that he hopped right back up and climbed up a telephone pole to safety. He probably spent the day telling his squirrel buddies about his big fall and how he stared into the jaws of death but survived to gather nuts another day. Then he probably took his aching body to bed so he’d be ready to start another day come morning.
One of my favorite quotes is from Mary Pickford, “If you have made mistakes, even serious ones, there is always another chance for you. What we call failure is not falling down, but the staying down.” If you’re like me and you’ve been the squirrel far more often than you’ve been Hannah, I recommend following Mary’s advice and get right back up again.