Monday, August 3, 2009

Outside the box of my limited thinking

The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you. B.B. King
I thought he was just a squirrel-brain. You know, not too bright, continually doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome.

I watched him climb up the tree, out onto the limb from which the birdfeeder is suspended and try to climb down the string hooking it to the tree. And every time, he'd get a few inches down, desperately try to hang on and end up catapulted into midair to land, fleet of foot on the ground below.

"Silly squirrel," I laughed to myself as. I watched him inspecting the ground, looking for feed. "He's trying to hide his embarrassment by pretending he can find food on the ground."

And then he'd climb up and repeat the same action. Again and again and again. Climb up. Out on a limb. Tentatively climb down. Catapult. Scurry about... Climb up. Out on a limb. Tentatively climb down. Scurry about...Climb up. Out on a limb... Five times. Six times. Ten times. He kept repeating the routine.

And then it struck me. He's not stupid at all. His intent is to be swung from the feeder so that it tips to the side, spilling its contents onto the grass below.

It was a feeding frenzy of the inspired kind.

He was doing the same thing again and again, expecting the same outcome.

I don't know when he figured out that it was futile to try to get onto the feeder. But, he did. And in the process, discovered an inventive way to get the food to come to him.

Very clever.

I was humbled. What had appeared obvious stupidity to me was actually inventive brilliance.

I learned something from my backyard squirrel this morning. I learned that what appears to be at first blush 'stupidity', is not necessarily so. Judging someone, or something, on my narrow perspective of what is true or real, i.e. there's only one way to get food from a birdfeeder and that's to sit on the ledge and peck it out -- limits my thinking.

Where else in my life do I look at a situation and think -- this is the way it should be, is designed to be, is meant to be -- and then limit my options by limiting my belief of what is possible?

There are a myriad of ways to tackle a problem. For that squirrel, he knew his limitations of flight inhibited his ability to land on the feeder. So, he got inventive. And in his inventiveness, discovered a whole new way of getting what he wanted.

Maybe I can do the same thing too.

The question is: Are you limiting your options by looking only for the obvious? Are you boxing up a problem and telling yourself, 'there's only one way to solve it'? Are you willing to take a swing at tipping the box over and seeing what pours out?


Anonymous said...


See . .brilliance!

When a writer stares out the window, brilliant thoughts find their way to the page


p.s. this is a good one, I'd like to publish on 360boom . .OK?

M.L. Gallagher said...

Thanks Mark! ABsolutely -- publish away!