Pesky Raccoons

Pesky raccoons. One of them woke me this morning, two hours before dawn. It was in the carport, successfully knocking over a garbage can. Of course, I didn’t know what was making the sound until I opened the door. I was ready for almost anything: someone breaking into my car (not that they’d find much), an unexpected wind blowing open a shed door (but the night was calm), maybe even something moving from an earthquake. (There actually was one last night, but it was only a 0.9.) Nope. It was none of what I expected. It was a pesky critter trying to get something out of nothing, and not worrying about manners. I do thank it though. It woke me from a dream that I will ponder and remember. Annoyances can inspire insights.

I actually felt a bit sorry for the raccoon. Last night was clear and cold, below freezing with a hard frost and black ice on the roads. The raccoon wasn’t driving, but if the roads are freezing, the wildlife is probably uncomfortable. Evidently, my carport was marginally warmer than the storm pipes or the blackberry patches that surround my property. Lured in by warmth and then enticed by the aroma of garbage. Ah, we all have our seductions. Of course, regular readers know my garbage can is usually empty. When I opened the kitchen door, the can was on its side, the lid was off, and the raccoon was backing out of a garbage can that was only filled with a plastic liner. How disappointing. I turned on a light. The raccoon sprinted to get under the car, and then it sped from under the Jeep to under the deck. That was probably relatively warm too, but didn’t smell as good.

Without being fully awake, it was easier to let my mind work with imagery instead of facts and logic. It woke me from a dream about a pod of blue whales breaching and playing. In the dream, I was tasked with counting them, was distracted, but then strongly encouraged to count them all before I woke. I thought about the dream as I walked back into kitchen and put away the lantern. (Thanks for the present, Dad.) The whales felt like blessings, strengths, virtues, and good fortunes that I was being asked to count, and to count them all. Deep, eh? So, then the trickster part of my brain asked about the raccoon. My intuition immediately leapt to an analogy of my mortgage company. They’re uncomfortable (I haven’t paid the mortgage in months), they think there’s a chance they can get something they want (the back payments), they don’t care if they are annoying or unwelcome (Mortgage Company Tactics), and they end up with nothing despite their efforts (but hey, I’m working on Backup Plans. Stay tuned.)

Through this recent economic turbulence, I’ve met three groups of people (they do not account for the entire populace):

  • One group has more than enough and knows it but handles much of the discussion in academic and abstract terms,
  • One group has enough income, but not enough assets, or vice versa and lives in fear of losing what it has,
  • One group has less than enough income and less than enough assets, and has broken through the fear of loss because the loss is behind them.

As so many TED talks paradoxically proclaim, it’s the last group that has some of the happiest people. My favorite is Mike Rowe’s talk. In it he alludes to something he said on his show too. Basically, instead of following your passion and finding a joyful job, the most joyful people are the people who bring their passion to whatever job they have. Monday, on my birthday, I got the call from the back telling me that I didn’t get the job because they thought I was over-qualified and that I’d be bored. Take a look at my bio. The reason there are so many things on it is because when I decide to work on something I try to bring energy to it, whether that is investing, engineering, program management, teaching karate, writing, photography,Scatchet Head Rainbow Sunrise public speaking, or consulting. He saw the job as simply filling out paperwork for checking accounts. I saw the job as working with, in, and for the community of people that I love. How could I be bored with that?

Several of us less-than-enough-ers (LTEs?) have had similar conversations in the last week. Laid-off? Yep, but watch that face light up when she talks about working with animals. Lost even more than me? Yep, and witness the unabashed serenity of revelation that comes from experiencing what really matters, persists, and brings joy into a life. Lived through months of anxiety, then awareness, then got a job? Wow! Watch what happens when someone whose core values have been tested and revealed is then given the resources to live a redefined life.

A couple of friends have separately offered to take me out to dinner for morale and for my birthday. I tell them what I really want is for them to come to my place so I can cook for them. I enjoy cooking for people more than I enjoy eating out. Eating out, especially on Whidbey, involves some very talented chefs and cooks. People travel here to eat. But dining out anywhere usually involves noisy rooms, a bit of caution in the conversations, negotiations with the kitchen over food allergies and tolerances, a bill that totals more than I spend on food in a week, and a scheduled departure because either the restaurant wants the table or the staff needs to go home. A dinner at my place won’t be as elegant, and I’ll have to do the dishes, Thanksgiving Kitchen Sculpture and there’s an element of culinary risk because I am not a professional. But, there can be music or no, which also means there can be dancing or no; many hands can have more fun working together on a meal, especially if green things are involved; the conversation can range broader without concern for eavesdroppers, unless the raccoons are listening; the wine costs less and pours more freely; the menu is ultimately customized for comfort, diet, or elegance; the evening can last as long as desired; and there are leftovers!

I look forward to having more than enough again. I am glad for the lessons I’ve learned about my self and the world; but, I don’t think it’s necessary to pass through deprivation to reach revelation. I certainly wouldn’t require it of everyone. Billions are living that lifestyle without a choice and I’m sure most would trade it for reliable food, shelter, warmth, water, health, security, and freedom. But I will nod to the raccoon for reminding me that I don’t consume much, to the mortgage company that has revealed personal hot buttons for me to work on, and to these last months which have stretched to years that have shown me friends and core truths that have been strong enough to persist despite misfortune.

About Tom Trimbath

real estate broker / consultant / entrepreneur / writer / photographer / speaker / aerospace engineer / semi-semi-retired More info at: and at my amazon author page:
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1 Response to Pesky Raccoons

  1. Susan Averett says:

    What moving musings, Tom! Thanks so much for sharing, as always!

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