Yesterday, Sunday morning, I got up quite early, with a list of things to do. Looking out my window over my computor, I saw a squirrel busy eating away at the pecans in a huge towering tree that extends over the my rooftop. I went to the front door, and saw my driveway was filled with pecan hulls, and wondered if the squirrel had been up all night feasting on the pecans. I couldn’t believe one little squirrel had eaten so many pecans. Then I watched as he dug holes, burying some of the pecans for winter.

Last week, when 6 year old Prince William was here, he picked up two plastic bags of acorns next door and we placed them in tin cans, to assist the squirrels with their food when the cold weather of winter comes. However, it’s not necessary to assist squirrels in their daily quest for food, they innately know what to do to “squirrel” away for future difficult days. And in spite of Prince William’s observation that they don’t have a brain, just a “thinking spot,” they seem to have a better understanding of survival than many humans.

Despite the fact I had plans to attend a luncheon in an adjoining town around 1 pm, I was motivated by the squirrel to cook a large pot of delicious lentils, to store in bags for the freezer, to have ready for lunch this coming week or so. I cooked a couple of hours, with spices, onions, peppers, carrots and spinach, and went to Prince William’s garden for fresh parsley to flavor. Wondering why so many stood in food-bank lines instead of buying an inexpensive bag of lentils, which are very nourishing, to have ready meals. Admittedly, the fresh tomato I enjoy with lentils is extravagant, costing over a dollar each for one small tomato. Then I make a fresh pan of cornbread and freeze the slices to have with the lentils, a great source of selenium.

A neighbor brought a large bag of fresh Georgia peaches which I freeze and make wonderful peach relish to have with my lentil soup. I simply followed the example of the squirrel, by preparing and storing food.

Then I got all dressed up to attend the luncheon, and my son picked me up in his beautiful new BMW sports car. While breezing along Highway 400 to Cumming, Georgia, we got into a discussion about a book titled “Man’s Search for Meaning,” by Victor Frankel, a Holocaust survivor. An interesting concept, which primarily deals with man’s primary drive for pleasure, called “logo therapy.” A conviction that man’s primary drive is not for pleasure, but for meaning.

It’s my position that in the hierachy of “needs,” i.e., food, clothing and shelter, there is a need for recognition, and there’s where we derive our pleasure. There are various ways individuals seek to derive that pleasure. And there’s where we part company with the squirrel, who seemingly has no such needs, enjoying himself running up and down the tree, playing by himself, before others join him in his playful time of pleasure.

On the other hand, flying along at 70 miles an hour on a beautiful Sunday in the exquisite vehicle, having an interesting conversation on our way to join others, we thought we may have more in common with the squirrel, than I first realized, because of the pleasure we derive socializing and feasting with others. And at that moment in time it held meaning for me, because of the pleasure I was experiencing.

It’s my contention that we as human beings always act according to our highest values at the moment, always changing, living on a planet of Universal Principles, which never change. Conversely, that which we may be enjoying with pleasure can change to pain and suffering, without notice.

After the earlier morning of squirrel watching, making lentil soup, the trip to Cumming, and a very pleasant luncheon with family and friends, we started on the return trip home, with beautiful, happy six year old Prince William riding in the back seat. Suddenly, my son spotted a roadside vendor selling boiled peanuts, a common sight throughout the north Georgia countryside during the summer. He swung around and went back to the roadside stand, bought a small bag of boiled peanuts in a cup, placed in a plastic bag, handed to Prince William in the back seat. Unaware the peanuts were in a cup of boiling hot water, and spilled onto Prince William. He began screaming from second degree burns, and suddendly this day of pleasure turned into tragedy. The next hour or so was quite traumatic, coping with the sudden injury. We poured water and ice over the child to no avail, and took off to a drugstore for medications for the burns, while the child screamed in pain. Eventually acquiring medication which reduced the pain, then dealing with means of ways to assist in healing of the second degree burns on his leg.

A couple of hours of intense emotional trauma for all of us, until the pain and suffering subsided, and the child was quiet and comfortable.

Later in the evening, when everything was quiet, and the child began recovery, I thought about the day and our discussion relative to man’s “search for meaning,” which was a reminder that a part of that search is our attempt to avoid pain and suffering. In spite of all our efforts to avoid, everyone is subjected to it at one time or another throughout life. And frequently it is upon us at the most unexpected times, in unusual circumstances and which causes one to wonder, why to an innocent child.

It’s my belief, life is one of lessons in our quest for meaning and the lessons we are to learn are not always apparent nor transparent. And frequently a mystery, it’s up to us to stop and try to understand and figure out. And can be understood, once we get past the pain and suffering, and face the consequences of how and why seemingly bad things happen to good and decent people. There is a purpose in all of it, as mysterious as it all seems at the time of the happening. While we learn to avoid making the same mistakes, new challenges, unexpected, arise at another time. We are subjective beings, living in a Universe of objectivity. The more understanding we have of the objective laws of the Universe, the less apt we are to suffer pain. Because the laws of the Universe are undeviating and immutable.

Unlike man’s value system, which is always changing, as we evolve to reach a better understanding of why we are here, where we came from and where we are going. It’s all a matter of discovery. Unless we learn a lesson from one painful experience, it most likely will repeat until we do.We were all created with a mind, will and emotions, and its a learning process, deciding how to best use those attributes for our advantage to avoid as much pain and suffering as possible, and enjoy the pleasures of life.

When we acknowledge the laws of the Universe involve opposition to and dependency upon many things in our everyday lives, we come to a clearer understanding of how to avoid some things and embrace others.

All my years growing up, my mother had a plaque hanging above my bed which read: “Life is real, life is earnest and the grave is not it’s goal.”

Just me


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  1. Peter Rudolph Zidek says:

    Wonderful and insightful story!