Published Sunday, October 07, 2012
I was just reminded that the only “change” that matters is the change in how we see the world around us.
Just a week or so ago, I realized just how much my feelings for one of God’s most “special” creatures had changed when I caught myself saying something I never dreamed I would say, much less write:
“I feel sorry for that possum.”
Yes, I did. Really.
Anyone raised in the South has seen their share of possums. These sightings are rarely by choice. If people wanted to see possums on purpose, possums would be in zoos. They’re not.
They are usually found raiding the home trash bin or scarfing down pet food. I heard about a possum that went through a cat door into a house, helped himself to the Friskies and waddled out fat and happy.
Possums are also seen running for cover under moving cars. Not always with success.
Yes, I’ve hit one. OK, several. You have, too.
But this possum was different. Mostly because I didn’t know what caused its demise. I just knew when I woke up and looked in the back yard it was lying still as a stone, not hopping along in that strange trot possums are famous for.
But, generally speaking, you never see a possum lying still unless it’s playing possum. This one wasn’t. It was dead as a (fill in your choice of cliche).
And I felt sorry for it.
I can’t explain why. Maybe because we never had a chance to meet and decide how we felt about each other. For all I know this was the nicest possum in the world, maybe one I could have approached in peace without getting hissed at. We might have become friends and starred in a Discovery Channel special titled “Man and Marsupial: Together at Last.”
I wondered where it came from and where it was going when it passed away on my property. I wondered if it had a mate or siblings or offspring. I wondered if it had hopes, dreams, ambitions. I wondered who taught it to play possum when it was young and carefree.
And I wondered if it was missed by a friend or relative or even a passing acquaintance who thought Bert was really cool. That’s what I called him.
But, most of all, I wondered if the local buzzards were going to take care of he cleanup chores or if I would be stuck with burial detail. I’ll tell you later. I’m sure I did the right thing.
And I’m sure that if my feelings about possums have changed, it’s possible to change the way I feel about other things, like the designated hitter or Cream of Wheat.
As Rocky Balboa told a hostile crowd of Soviet sports fans after he defeated the steroid-stuffed Soviet boxing machine Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, “If you can change and I can change then we can all change and it’s time for a change... and Yo, Adrian.”
Or something close to that.
The point being, sometimes change takes a little effort, but sometimes it just shows up unexpectedly. Like a gift from on high or a dead possum in the yard.
Either way, I’m sorry for the possum, but I’m glad it’s passing helped me realized just how much I had changed without even knowing it.
And I thought to myself that if change is this easy, maybe I’ll even give Hope a try. But not yet. You don’t want to rush these things.
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