In ancient Greece stood the Oracle of Delphi. There, Apollo, the Greek god of wisdom, was said to answer questions that tried the minds of mere mortals. Chiseled into the wall of the Oracle were two words: Know thyself.
How well do you know yourself? Are you the person you think you are? Or are you, like me, still learning something new about yourself almost every day?
We learn in many ways. We listen to our parents and we learn. We listen to brothers and sisters and friends and we learn. We go to school or church and we learn. But there is nothing that can hold a candle to what happens when we set out on a path one day and discover ourselves along the way.
I recently had an encounter with a squirrel. I don't know if the squirrel learned anything from it, but I did.
It happened like this: To make room for a new garage, my next door neighbor had to remove a large wooden shed that stood in his yard. He offered it to me and I had it moved over to my place by a pair of forklifts. In the spot where it had stood I noticed a nesting site for some small animal. I also noticed that some two-by-eights under the shed were slightly rotted where the nest had been because the animal which had nested there had pushed dirt up against them.
The beams were still sound, so when I installed the shed on my property I simply put wire mesh around its base to keep out little critters.
Reroofed, repainted, partly rebuilt with large windows to let in bright sunlight and power installed to run tools, the big old shed became a great workshop.
That fall, I noticed a squirrel in the yard, which seemed to have an unusual interest in my nice new workshop. When I inspected the area where I had seen it, I sure enough found that it had been digging. In fact, it had dug under the wire mesh in one spot.
"Aha," I thought. "Here's the little lady that has been nesting under the shed, come back to her winter home to have a new litter of young."
I countered the digging with six cement pavers, thinking that was the end of that. Then began a game of shed poker. The squirrel saw my six cement pavers, and raised me two deep, offset burrows. I saw the two burrows and raised the squirrel a bucketful of newly mixed concrete.
Well, to make a long story short, it was an interesting six weeks. The end result, inevitably, was one angry workshop owner with a very nasty trip-spring trap intended to send one crafty little critter to squirrel Valhalla. And that was when I learned something about myself that I should have known all along. I thank God I learned it before I set that trap. Winning isn't everything. And I don't own my own back yard. I merely share it with other living things.
And I'm happy to do it.