Apr 9, 2021


I love puzzles. 

    1. Crossword
    2. Jigsaw
    3. Lateral thinking
    4. Crime dramas (especially something from BBC) that can be on the darker side but with a minimal amount of gore and gratuitous violence
    5. Noticing my behaviour and the behaviour of others to solve the puzzle of ‘why”


Because I’ve been told that I leave no stone unturned in my attempt to solve life’s puzzles, it seems to suggest that my puzzling borders on obsession and less on casual interest.


Recently, while watching the surprisingly diverse wildlife embracing spring in our city backyard, my partner made an observation.  He noticed that when there was an unexpected noise, the squirrels and the birds paused and stood still.  While that part wasn’t a surprise, he went on to wonder why they appeared to be evaluating the situation but then, once they felt safe, they continued on without changing their behaviour in any way. 


But they did evaluate the situation!  Not in the way I do when I’m watching a crime drama when I’m taking into account the motive and opportunity of each character involved. In fact, the backyard creatures used a more embodied way of evaluating that didn’t involve judgment of motive or mental gymnastics.


  • They paused.  


  • They used their senses to read the clues around them.  And then they chose what to do next based on the feedback they get from listening to what their senses are saying.


  • I can only presume that they didn’t get lost in the mental evaluation of motive and opportunity. 


While I’m still going to watch my crime dramas and attempt to figure out “whodunnit” before the end of the episode but maybe I can pull back from thinking that everything is a puzzle to be solved.  And, can I shelve the judgment and mental gymnastics for a more embodied approach?  


I may borrow some simpler wisdom from our backyard neighbours. And practice just noticing my surroundings using the multitude of perceptive brains that exist throughout my body.  And not rely only on the brain in my head.


“Solving mysteries is never going to be half so important as living calmly in their midst”. 

Pico Iyer


PS.  The picture is a puzzle I created for the squirrels.   The shoes were an intended obstacle to prevent them from hanging off the birdfeeder but it quickly turned into a fun obstacle course that they perfected within the hour.

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