I was taking a hike through a nature trail earlier this spring. About a mile into the hike, I noticed along the trail an unfinished project.
At first the leaning tree, about a six-inch diameter, looked as if someone took a hatchet to the base. As I got closer I recognized the work of a busy beaver. However, there was a problem. I surmised that the beaver had spent considerable time and effort to fell another structural member of his abode, but as it fell, it rested on a neighbor, a slightly smaller tree, but enough to keep the first tree at a 45 degree angle to the ground.
I tried to imagine how the beaver would have reacted to the predicament. If he were a typical American, I suspect he would have gotten angry, used some cuss words, then blamed somebody else for putting the other tree in the wrong spot, or making the first tree fall in the wrong direction. At last, the beaver would file a lawsuit against the forest, and maybe the forests’ government for compensation and punitive damages.
On the other hand, I don’t suspect beavers exhibit typical human emotional outbursts. More likely, frustrated or not, the animal likely went back to work, found another suitable tree, and felled it for the project.
We live in an angry world these days. Too many people are angry at things, other people, and even themselves. The source of this anger is both in and out of our own control. Just a few days ago I caught myself getting irritated and very testy with a recorded voice on a customer service help line. I know the recording wasn’t as upset as I. The worst of this world is when we let others (read: media, politicians, bosses, co-workers, family members, pick your favorite) rile up our anger, deliberately or not.
We can all learn from the beaver. We live in an imperfect world, and sometimes things don’t work out as we plan or desire. Sometimes it’s our own fault, due to poor planning, or poor execution. Then again, sometimes it’s out of our control. This can be irritating. If somebody else is at fault, it is even more aggravating.
There are times when the manager with a project that on paper should be a ‘slam dunk’ starts to unravel, causing a cascade of other issues. A sales person puts extreme time and effort into a customer but still loses the sale. Or maybe a distracted driver causes a fender bender that results in at minimum too much time to coordinate repairs, or worse an injury that needs tending. You all have your own frustrating examples, I am sure.
During the rest of my hike that day, I decided that most often the world and people in it are not out to get me. I resolved that when I work hard on a task that gets hung up on the tree right next to it, I will try to control and suppress my anger, and go to work on the next tree. Wish me luck.
In the meantime, if you want to help me, during the upcoming election season remind me to turn off the radio and TV.