There once was a squirrel that lived in a beautiful old oak tree. Now this squirrel was a bit of a grumpy-gus who complained about everything all the time. Too many of those human creatures and their dogs walking around disturbing his peace. Too much work to run down the trunk and gather up the acorns on the ground. Those damn jays, making such a racket all the time. Not to mention the heat in the summer that made his fur all sticky and the chill winter mornings that caused him to shiver and quiver no matter how hard he tried to keep warm. Life was one long irritating journey. Or so he would proclaim, loudly and often.
The other squirrels in the community began to call him Mad. They avoided the oak where he made his home. They laughed at his grumpiness. While the other squirrels ran about and happily chased each other, Mad Squirrel sat alone in his tree. It was a lonely life he made for himself. And there he sat, wrapped up in his discontent. No matter how brightly the sun might shine or how abundant the food might be or how beautiful his home, he was never happy. He always wanted something else, something different, something perfect.
Then one day, Red-Eyed Owl invaded the squirrel community. The other squirrels scattered. They scurried away and hid as best they could. They waited. They hoped that someday soon Red-Eyed Owl would go away and leave them alone again. But Mad Squirrel had had enough. This was the last straw. He was not going to let anything chase him away from his tree. So he gathered his courage. He took a deep breath. He climbed to the branch where Red-Eyed Owl had come to roost. He puffed himself up, swished his tail and stiffened his resolve. “Go away, you brute!” He cried. “You are not welcome here!” To his astonishment, Red-Eyed Owl took wing and departed.
From that day forward, the other squirrels began to speak of Mad Squirrel with respect and of his madness with more than a little awe. From that day forward, Mad Squirrel stopped complaining. Perhaps it was the threat of losing what he had that wrought the change in him. Perhaps it was the act of standing up for what mattered most. We’ll never know. But today he lives happily in the squirrel community where he smiles at the morning sun and relishes his acorns and talks about how good life can be when you love it.
© Karen Kleis – All Rights Reserved
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