The Eagle and The Mouse

Like many people, perhaps I could say most, I have two very different ways of seeing my world…sometimes I am so focused on something so far away that it seems positively comical that I am even “worried” about it, whatever it is.  Other times however I am totally zoning in on the right here-right now, and will not be satisfied until I have an all encompassing handle on the specific situation and have given my full attention to the  immediacy of the issue.  If you want to talk about somebody who is constantly looking for balance, I might very well be your girl…I am sometimes overwhelmed with my thoughts of something so far off, and other times overwhelmed with my thoughts of something that is NOW.  I can’t honestly tell you that I think one is better than the other, or one is healthier for my spirit than the other, but I can tell you that it is true; I flip flop from immediate worries to far off in the future worries and pretty much have the same reaction to both.   Some months ago I was reading Oprah magazine and one of the writers of an article was discussing “…an eagle soaring high can see a mouse miles away, but a mouse can only see what is right in front of him, so when you are scattered, you have to rise into eagle view and look at your whole life and the big picture in order to establish your direction, and then you can drop back to mouse vision and focus on specific tasks at hand that will move you toward your goal…”

My teenage granddaughter struggles with this, mightily.  She gets so hyper focused on “little things” instead of seeing the big picture, however, having been a teenager once, and having also raised one, I know that to her, it is not little things at all, and there is nothing whatsoever I can say to her that will help her understand that things get better as we grow up…to her it’s all huge and challenging and upsetting, there is very little looking ahead for her, it is all the immediacy of the difficulties of hormones, school, dance competition, parents, homework, and being 14.  My daughter too struggles with this at times; so zoomed in on the “little things” and not seeing the long view, and for her with the immediacy of a full time job, two adolescent daughters, two step-sons, two large dogs, a husband, and the complexities of combining two families and two households into one, are all challenges that make her frequently unable to go from mouse vision to eagle vision.  It’s quite clear to me that this is not uncommon, regardless of one’s age or position.

A squirrel works very hard in the summer and fall to save and bury nuts for the winter…I live in the woods and see it every day…they build strong thick nests high in trees and they stock away as much food for the winter as they can…to me they see the big picture and know that if they don’t plan ahead they will perhaps die.  In the summer I am very busy at my job and in the winter I am very slow, and like a squirrel, if I did not plan ahead for February property taxes, car insurance, income tax, & house insurance, all of which are due February 1st every year, I don’t know that I could sleep at night…sure buying new jeans, new shoes, new handbags, new earrings, a facial, highlights, and a massage might be a glorious way to spend a few weekends in September, but if I only had mouse vision when I was busy and making money, come winter, like a careless squirrel who did not use her eagle vision, who played instead of saved, I would be full of worry and regrets and have no nuts!

I can honestly say that at my mid-life age, I am much better at seeing the big picture than I was when I was younger…being grounded and not allowed to go to the movies and not allowed to use the phone on a Saturday would have made me wish I was dead at 15, but at 52, not being able to leave the house and not having any need to use the phone on a Saturday would be such a lovely day!!  My experiences and my difficulties, I hope, have made me better able to understand the worries of others.  My life has gone from unbelievably awful to splendidly lovely and I lived through it all…if you are reading this, yours likely has too.  I am not alone in my memories of a time when life was so much harder, and sadder, and angrier, than my life is now, and like you dear reader, I have survived 100% of my worst days, as one of my yoga teacher often says.

When I say or write that I crave balance at his age, I think it is something like what this therapist asserts; mouse vision is needed at times but eagle vision will get you where you want to be.  I get to go on one vacation a year but I have to save up to pay for it.  I get to take unlimited yoga classes for a year but have to save up to pay for it. I have to look ahead to live the life that feels best to me.  I lived a scary and hard life for a few years that taught me a lot of lessons, all of which continue to shape me, decades later.  This week, back in 1986, was one of the worst weeks of my entire life…I won’t go into details again about how awful it was but I remember too clearly, still, how it felt to sob on the telephone to the electric company that it was cold, the house I rented was poorly insulated and I was twelve days from my due date and pleaded with them not to turn off my electricity because the house had electric baseboard heat, and how it felt to go to my piggy bank, that was the shape of a harlequin, and find that the $40 I had hidden for emergency food had been taken by the man I was married to, for, I can only assume, emergency drugs or beer…it was a terrible January and I had only mouse vision at that time.  I did not see a big picture, I only saw the anxiety of the right that minute…minute after minute…I had no food in the house and was on the edge of having no heat, was stuck with no car and no money, and thinking every hour, what if I went into labor here??  I could not have gathered the strength to have eagle vision of any kind whatsoever those weeks…scary men banging on my door looking for money or drugs or the man I was married to made me constantly on edge…The life I live NOW was unimaginable to the 18 year old me of then…she just wanted to not die, she just wanted to be okay, she just hoped things would be better tomorrow…if only she knew then what she knows now…I suppose that is what the therapist might have meant…a mouse is jumpy and anxious  and an eagle soars with confidence…

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