Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Coping With Craziness

WPA poster for The Alarm Clock by Avery Hopwood
The clock read 5.42 AM when I was awakened this morning by the sound of something solid being batted around on the floor above my head. One of the local species of rodentia had packed a nut into the house and was having a feast, completely ignorant of the fact that their pleasure was at my expense. I laid quietly for a few minutes, hoping I'd already slept through the main course and s/he'd be finished shortly. No such luck. So, I got out of bed, grabbed the flashlight, and headed upstairs -- barefoot and in flannel pajamas (it gets cold at night in Maine).

After a few fruitless minutes of playing "Aha!" with my dinner guest, I gave up the search along with any expectation of returning to sleep and turned on the coffee pot, instead. Maple oat muffins are cooling on the stove at this very moment and the cat is in the window, hoping for a glimpse of anything that could be interpreted as prey.

We're a pair, I'll tell you. I've done everything I could to ensure no wild creature pays the ultimate price for freeloading on my property while he would like nothing better than to go after all of them. As long as he restricts himself to the occasional mouse, I'm not about to let my political views regarding "Bambi" interfere.

There's something mentally healthy about the consistency in all of this, up to and including "Julia Child" upstairs. I may be irritated over losing sleep but that's as far as it goes. My cat is glad for the company, the critter got away, and I'm at work. It's a lesson in coping. And most things that happen to us are better handled by coping than by craziness.

The holidays are upon us and that means family and whenever families get together, some measure of craziness can't be far behind. It's important to keep our heads and resist getting dragged into an age-old drama that no amount of rehashing will ever resolve. So what if there are "chipmunks" in the attic? As long as they don't do any damage, leaving well enough alone isn't such a bad strategy. Remaining focused on what's good about being together, enjoying the moment, and coping when an acorn gets rolled across the floor at 5.42 AM is better than going, ahem, "nuts," anytime.

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