I was on a conference call at work when a squirrel appeared outside my window. Nothing unusual at first. This happens everyday. In turn, I usually open my window and say, “Hey, squirrel.” And, the squirrel looks at me like this:
And, I look at it.
What made it unusual is what the squirrel did next.
The squirrel dropped to its belly into a mulch bed and pressed its arms against its sides. It laid there for about five seconds. The squirrel then popped up and bounded onto my fence post. It stretched its body flat on the fence rail and closed its eyes. A glint of yellow sunlight colored its gray body. The squirrel laid there for about five minutes as if not a care in the world. Occasionally, it would open an eye to make sure a hawk wasn’t about to gut it wide open on the fence rail.
Perhaps you’ve seen a sunbathing squirrel before. This was my first time. Save for the squirrel I befriended during my first summer at UVA, I’ve never seen a squirrel not acting, well, squirrelly. Even watching a somewhat docile squirrel eat is a bit anxiety inducing. It’s like watching a Coney Island Hot Dog Eating Contest, what with all the rapid fire munching going on.
After all, squirrelly isn’t a synonym for calm. To be squirrelly is to be restless, nervous, or otherwise unpredictable. In some ways the squirrel is my spirit animal along with the duck and the crow.
Seeing the sunbathing squirrel scene unfold this afternoon got me thinking: even squirrels need a moment of relaxation. So, remember the sunbathing squirrel the next time you find yourself acting squirrelly or running around mentally or physically like a half-crazed lunatic.
Here’s a short meditation you can say to yourself:
I am a sunbathing squirrel (say this as you breathe in)
This is my fence rail (say this as you breathe out)
Repeat three times for good measure.