Thursday, July 2, 2015
Please look at this photo. It is a picture of a raccoon riding on the back of an alligator. On its two hind legs.
You may have seen this photo on the internet already and know the back story. But if you haven't (and even if you have) there is clearly more here than meets the eye.
At first glance, we have a bad ass raccoon that ain't scared of no gator. He simply needed a ride downtown and this looked like a highly efficient option. He's got confidence, vision, and a clear path ahead.
However, the truth of this photo is this: One day, a father and son were out in the woods and accidentally startled the raccoon. It then scampered away, and by pure dumb luck, landed on the back of this alligator. The fact that the raccoon was not eaten and actually escaped is a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom miracle. (Young people, Google it). What we are actually seeing here is a moment of frozen shock, not chutzpah.
This little internet nugget came and went, but the image still resonates with me.
I think, so many times, we portray ourselves as a raccoon on an alligator's back. No worries, no fears, life is an easy, breezy ride down the river. Social media has made it conveniently possible for people to always put their biggest and brightest smile forward.
But when you dig a little deeper, when you ask questions and spend time and squeeze hands, you find out that the raccoon doesn't want to be on the alligator, that it is holding on for dear life, and that it is desperately looking for the quickest way out.
How many times in your life have you felt that misunderstood, that alone, that scared?
It's OK. I have too. I just don't talk about it.
Pretending to be whole is hard work. As humans, when we are broken, we often don't know how to put the pieces back together. We turn to friends, family, food, faith, fountain drinks spiked with a little something - the search for peace takes us many places. And sometimes, we come up empty.
So where do we find sunshine on a cloudy day? How do we get off the gator's back?
Um, actually, I don't know - I was hoping you would tell me.
I jest. But truly, I don't have "the" answer. What I can tell you is that lately, I have been working on visualizing this:
And don't start singing Frozen ...
Now, I know that letting go is not as easy as releasing a balloon into the sky. But it is a first step. Recently, I have let go of a few things. I have let go of the belief that I control my children's destinies. I have let go of relationships that cause more harm than good. I have let go of the notion that I will actually clean my house. And I have let go of the dream that summer is for resting.
During this process, I realize that I may try to jump back up and grab that string dangling in the air. Because letting go is one thing, but having faith that everything will work out anyway, is quite another.
I'll let you know how it goes. Hopefully the news will be good. But even if it isn't, at least I know I'm not alone - or gator bait.
Until next time, keep crowin'!