The One About A Squirrel

Photo by Evan McDougall on Unsplash
Note: For the next year, I plan to write a short story every day. Some may be 
palatable, even enjoyable(?). Others may be horrendous. If you like them, like them or share them. If you don’t, well it is whatever. I’m doing it as a challenge someone gave me. I’m calling these my fivers. I try and write them without stopping in five minutes, little to no editing after the time limit. Each story or post will come from a different prompt I am given. These are just exercises for me to be in the process of writing.

 

I grew up in small, rural America. Some people have called my area the rust belt; others have called it the snow belt. I called it home. In the sleepy towns of NW PA, there was a small private Christian school that I attended for most of my life from Kindergarten through 11th grade. The elementary wing of French Creek Valley Christian School had these decently giant windows to allow for natural light, as well as a good distraction for most of my classmates while some teacher went on about time, times tables, writing cursive, or the rudimentary knowledge of grammar. Grammar was the time that I would space out in the day, but I didn’t do it in a way that made the teacher genuinely suspect that I wasn’t listening.

One day, I don’t know for how long, but I blatantly watched two squirrels play with each other in the most jovial and playful manner. I don’t remember what drew me in; it might have been the changing of the weather. It was May! May in Pennsylvania was my favorite time of the year, and I found these two squirrel-mates living in a manner that made me envy them. While I heard this teacher go on about adjectives, nouns, verbs, and adverbs, my mind was analyzing what I was watching. Plato made the statement that a student’s formal, lecturing education should happen later on in life while as a youth they should learn the control of self through body and mind training. Education was to turn the light of our eyes to the goodness within us, thinks Plato. Well, chubby little Phil wanted to be jovial and lounge in the sun while I played. I kept hearing my teacher sound like the parents’ from the cartoon strip Peanuts.

As the squirrels played, they seemed to drift farther and farther from me. I watched them intensely, using anything I could to get a good eye on their bonding time. It was somehow a chance to escape the confines of my education to live a child’s dream — to simply be within the world. The next thing I knew my escape was immediately interrupted by the teacher calling out my name. “Philip! What are you doing?” As I heard the teacher, my mind reinstated the necessity to be a drone. However, I was more than halfway out of my seat, leaning more than half of my body sideways to watch the squirrels. Seeking to catch my balance, I spoke the truth. I wasn’t paying attention teacher. I cared more about the squirrels than this grammar lesson.

As I recentered upon the lesson, my mind couldn’t help but go back to the squirrels. Squirrels are funny creatures! Yet, they are fascinating in a peculiar way. I learned something valuable that day that I more recently realized in my adult life. Jovial and playfulness come to us in the moments of sheer non-expectation. Those squirrels did not happen to plan it; no, instead, they found themselves raptured into it. We become overwhelmed by chance to do something many of dream about: to find joy within the most serious of times.

How dare these squirrels to interrupt teaching of grammar for some nutty fun and comradery. But TRULY, it was the opposite! How dare we intrude into the scared moment of joy, innocence, and profound connectedness with a quibbling triffle about constucted rules to communicate through a medium other than oral language.  A bit of pleasure within the fabric of life isn’t found by the removal of things. Friend, joy is located in the midst of life. Connectedness is found within doing, not planning. Playfulness cannot be prepared or forced; instead, it becomes playful from the busy. There is much to say, but squirrels, small creatures of God’s creation, taught me that at a young age. I’m still learning it.

The One About The Wall

Note: For the next year, I plan to write a short story every day. Some may be palatable, even enjoyable(?). Others may be horrendous. If you like them, like them or share them. If you don’t, well it is whatever. I’m doing it as a challenge someone gave me. I’m calling these my fivers. I try and write them without stopping in five minutes, little to no editing after the time limit. Each story or post will come from a different prompt I am given. These are just exercises for me to be in the process of writing.

Walls, we all have them; I am one of them. I’m actually a pretty famous wall. Not the Berlin dude, he had a scary existence…RIP. You may have heard people call me Juliet’s Wall. (Check out my IG story to see how I show love to my fans.) Anywho, you might remember that I am the wall that separated two lovers. Walls are always interesting. And you should listen to me, I’m a wall. I remember these two lovers looking through me, which was mighty rude, and speaking the sweetest, kindest things to each other. One day they disappeared, but I remember everything they talked about.

I’m not here to rehearse their story. Instead, I want to tell you my story. Walls are usually meant for a good thing. You’ve heard the adage, “Good fences make good neighbors.” And they can be dastardly things. But, I’m not talking about physical walls like the lovers had; I’m speaking at the more emotional and metaphorical level. Walls become huge creations that make people feel so very small, or they can be little, tiny wall that still makes people feel insecure and second guess. Imagine it with these lovers, their physical barrier, i.e., me, was also a personification of their real barrier between families.

Their barrier ruined my grout! I’m sure it chipped a good portion of my life away. On the one hand, the lovers could see each other, hear one another, yet they always let something stop them from indeed being together. While, on the other hand, their special desire, longing, and time for the other played out in such a manner that they were together. In that way, the wall was only a small leap, and it was a gigantic hurdle. It is crazy how I heard these two back and forth proclaim their affection and desire. They made the conscious effort to be the other’s person all along enabling the wall to impede themselves to a point. “Just climb over,” I thought, “I’ll support your love and weight.” Every night I sighed with every sigh, and I was glad they used me to support those massive, full hearts. But oh, how their love could have blossomed if they but traversed me together. It would have been enough.

I heard someone say they removed their wall, but I didn’t understand it. I was still here, and I was their wall. Walls can sometimes all be about perception, even physical ones. A lover’s heart can leap, and it should be sagacious to know how to scale such a wall like me. For this is not the first time that I have seen lovers dwindle. And it is not the first time that I have heard of the lover’s quarrel. But, I have yet to see lovers ask a wall how to be free together. Maybe then, lovers could learn from me on how to climb…well, someone like me.