|Words and Photo by F LoBuono|
A good friend and I were driving on Rte. 9W in Rockland Lake the other day. It's was a beautiful afternoon and that's a particularly picturesque stretch of road. It's just two lanes and slices through the woods that surround the small lake. It's a bucolic setting and one that I always enjoy driving through - especially with the motorcycle. It's great to just kick it a bit, sit back, and watch the road fly by. However, as with ALL things, there is a down side, too. It's perfect habitat for critters - all sorts of critters. I've seen, fox, deer, ground hogs, all types of birds, and, of course, squirrels, crawling all over the road. And, because of the nature of things, I've seen them as PART of the road! It's inevitable and both car and critter can pay a terrible price in a collision.
So, as I was enjoying the setting, at the same time, I was carefully watching the road. I scanned both sides for some critter making a mad dash for the opposite one. Of course, being Fall, the squirrels are particularly active, frantically collecting their nuts and acorns for the long winter ahead. This usually means, unfortunately, many of them wind up, as my truck driving brother calls them, road pizzas! But I'm usually pretty good at dodging the little bastards. And I was doing a damned good job that day, too. On more than one occasion I had to take evasive action to narrowly miss one!
Of course, (me being me LOL) this got me thinking: there is so much good habitat on both sides of the road, why would they risk a gruesome death to exchange one for the other? I mean, isn't one tree's acorns the same as any others? Why wind up as so-called road pizza? Well, simply put, they do it because they have to. They are driven to do so by instinct. They are compelled to, at least, TRY. They don't even think about it. They must be what they are. This, in turn, led me to this question: Are WE so different? To truly live, and not just survive, must we not risk all to learn what must lie on the other side? Isn't this the elemental premise of human nature. Are we not driven to learn, despite the danger, to know what might be across the highway? I think that we must come to terms with the idea that there is an element of risk in just, simply, living - especially if one attempts to live a truly full life.
The most successful people in history have been willing to risk all to gain all. Now, this may be extreme for most people. Most of us have far lesser goals. Still, it is a mind-set, an ethos, that can be applied every day and in every way. Once we accept that bad things, as well as good things, are ALL a part of life, the SAME life, we forge ahead. It drives us forward as a species and as individuals. That acceptance reduces, if not eliminates, fear. Without fear, we are free to experiment, to grow, to ultimately live.
Yes, perhaps, there ARE better acorns in the trees on the other side of the highway. And you will never know until you try.