catnmouseA few nights ago, I participated in a Keystone Cop routine in which Darter and I both wildly scrambled to catch a mouse that had come in with the kindling box.  My cat and I often find ourselves in this clumsy two-step. First, the mouse bolts out of somewhere and becomes visible to both of us. Darter and I run toward the mouse, me with a coffee mug to put over it, and she with her talons. The mouse darts out and scurries somewhere else. We follow. And follow and follow.

Eventually, one of us catches the mouse. This has gotten me to thinking. Why—when the mouse is clearly out of reach behind the fridge or the fireplace, or under the cushy chair—does that little creature insist on racing out into the open again and again? I see the same antics going on with the chipmunks in the old windfall pile: Darter comes sniffing around, a chipmunk darts into the brush, then keeps coming out and darting off again and again. Often, Darter catches it. Then, I have to go catch Darter…

Why do some creatures seemed compelled to keep bolting in front of the predator? Surely, they have instincts about such things. Where is that “quiet voice within” that ought to be telling the critter to stay put?

It is no great leap for me when confronted by this cat-and-mouse game to ask myself, “Why do I manage to keep putting myself in front of the predator? Where is that instinct, that little quiet voice, that cherishes my safety? Am I not listening, or is it not speaking?”

When I use the word predator, I am thinking about any force that steps in our path to devour us in some way. Sometimes it is a job that does not suit us, and seems to eat us a little more each day. Sometimes it is a relationship (friend or family) that is constantly trying to munch us in small or big bites. Sometimes it is the voice of our own fears that gobbles the life out of us.

The skill of listening for that “quiet voice” that has my best interest at heart is something I’ve been consciously practicing for years. Sometimes now, I hear it loud and clear. Other times, I don’t know what I’m listening to: ego, fear, over-thinking, exhaustion, pride? Yet, if a mouse keeps running into the face of destruction, how can I hope to avoid the predator? The mouse has far more keenly honed instincts than I!

I have imagined that once I get this right, that is, once I can hear the quiet voice all the time, life will be much easier and smoother. I’ll know what is the right thing to do! All the time! Yet those small rodents—those fine-tuned little bundles of instinct, focus, and wit—seem to be telling me something about the predator that makes me uncomfortable. Maybe we are not meant to always “know” or to evade that which is trying to put claws in us. How can this be? I am thrown back onto my mantra of “I don’t know—it’s a mystery to me…Ommm.”

Many years ago, I “knew” down in the very core of my bones that my first book, “Animals as Teachers and Healers,” was going to be a New York Times #1 Bestseller. I just knew it, as deeply as I’d ever known anything. And then, I would be financially safe forever after. My book never made it to #1. It did make it to the top 25, and sit there for a week or so. But not #1, so my financial security was not in the bag. And I flat-out quit believing in my quiet voice. It has spoken loudly, and incorrectly. If I was wrong about so deep a knowing, I could no longer believe in my ability to intuit anything correctly.

The mouse trumps me, though. The mouse tells me that human intuition—just like the instinct of all things stalked—is never a guarantee of safety or ease. Yes, we may know, but the hands that forged us know more and know better. This does not mean that there is no quiet voice, nor that this voice is not worth careful and earnest cultivation. Perhaps my intuition is spot on these days, but the larger hands that hold the universe feel compelled to fling some predators of one form or another into my path now and again. And I’ll get grabbed. And if I am lucky, someone like me will pull me from the sharp claws as I do Darter’s small prey, and perhaps I’ll be patched up to scurry on into another day.

cindyA NOTE: Kindred Spirit Cindy suggested to me several weeks back that I begin a weekly discussion on topics we Family members might like to discuss together. At my request, she suggested a page full of wonderful potential topics. Intuition—recognizing it from “the other voices”—was one suggestion, and between that and the mouse, here you have it!

So, Family and friends, how do you know when you are hearing that “quiet voice,” and not all the noisy others? What are some of your challenges to hearing your intuition? Tell us your stories of success and of stumbling. We need to hear them…

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