A Squirrel looking down on me…

I got a great Christmas present this year.  It was something I always thought I wanted.  Something I thought would be wonderful…something appropriate to what I do.  A real live, stuffed squirrel.stuffed_squirrel

I opened the box and wiggled my hand through the packing… when I touched fur, I knew immediately what it was.  Even before that I knew…my family had stopped their unwrapping to watch me and my first reaction to this package.  When I pulled it out, I was without words.  I loved it, I was horrified by it, I was sad, I was ecstatic.  It was a squirrel.  I mean, I’m the squirrel guy, right?  A completely appropriate gift for me, right? I’ve wanted something like this almost since I started Bob the Squirrel over a decade ago.  What could be wrong?

Modern impulses dictate that whenever something oddly cool comes within range of your iPhone, you must take a photo of it and spew it into the social media realm.  That’s what I did.  I wouldn’t even call it an instinct, it was more of an involuntary reaction.  I put this squirrel out there.  Let the “Likes” and “Retweets” come forth!

There was something that just didn’t feel right.  Even after the likes came rolling in.  I kinda sorta ignored those not feel rights for the moment.

I put the squirrel on the shelf above my drawing board… as inspiration, as motivation, as a place of honor.

Then I called it a night.  Long holiday.  Back to reality in a few hours time.

I don’t sleep well on a good day.  Last night was not a good day.  I tossed and turned all night… my brain not allowing my body and deserved or undeserved rest.  I “woke” up this morning and I immediately knew why the night was so rough.

It was the squirrel.  The stuffed, once alive in a tree or garbage can, squirrel.

I’m a devout animal lover.  I can’t even watch a pet food commercial without feeling some sort of feeling for the animal.  I won’t visit a zoo.  I can’t even watch a movie with a dog or other animal in it… because nine times out of ten, if there’s an animal on the movie poster, chances are good that the animal won’t make it to the credits.  I can’t even go into a pet store that sells dogs or cats.  My problem… we all have them.

So, here I am, the creator of Bob the Squirrel.  I get weepy when I see a squirrel, post car tire, at the side of the road.  How hypocritical is it of me to feel that way and yet, have a stuffed squirrel looking down on me as I draw? How can I swear up and down that I’m an animal lover and at the same time possess a “trophy”?  I often profess that I am the world’s biggest hypocrite… but this much hypocrisy is too much.

I appreciate the gift.  I do.  Hell, I wanted to get myself one many times.  Talking and walking are completely different.  I was face to face with that squirrel and it just didn’t seem right.

I’m not preaching to anyone but myself.  If you have animal heads on your walls, that’s you… and I have no right to and would NEVER berate or belittle you.  It’s just not my thing.  Especially since I’ve spent so long with Bob… and plan on spending much more time with him.

I thanked the person who gave it to me and explained my morning after feelings.  She was cool with it and understood.  No sense in everyone feeling bad, because that’s not what this post is about.  It’s about feeling what’s wrong, accepting it and correcting it…walking the walk and talking the talk.

The squirrel will be taken off the shelf and boxed up.  I realize now that I got the best possible gift from all of this:  self realization and preservation.

history and me…

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throughout high school and undergrad, i couldn’t be bothered with history.  it just never really clicked with me: why would you want to look at things that have already happened?  that last statement is bordering on ironic considering that at one point i wanted to be a philosophy major.

as i got older i started to understand history more…not the dates and the places but the CONCEPT of history.   it was simple: knowing what was done directs what you’re going to do.  okay, i get that… as i got deeper and deeper though, i realized that history puts only a few names in bold print:  washington, jefferson, adams… but they’re not the only ones making history.  in fact, history; the creation of a nation, an economic entity, is all about the names that you never hear…names and faces that in some cases are never even recorded.  what excited me the most was that history is all about stories.  i get more perspective from a corporal in a muddy field who jotted notes in his journal than his commanding general in a dry tent on a hill.

it’s about the faceless, nameless masses.  they’re the ones that make history real.

maybe one of these days i’ll work on my phd.  for now, i’ll let a cartoon squirrel let me know how blind i can sometimes be.