So a coyote, three crows and 22 deer walk into their neighborhood bar, probably Ray’s Place.
OK, perhaps this didn’t really happen. It’s ridiculous, right? That’s because we all know, of course, that the coyote would lope into the bar, the crows would fly in, and the deer would actually leap in.
Once inside, the coyote would sneak behind the bar, hoping to find a tasty snack in the trash can. The crows would hop along the bar counter, nibbling on nuts or crumbs. The deer, of course, would take their seats on the bar stools, raising a glass or two while waiting for their table.
Now that I have your attention, here’s the rest of the story.
A couple of my friends are as eclectic as the motley crew of wildlife mentioned above. They’ve enriched my worldview about many things. One is a spiritual teacher and healer in the holistic, nature-based Native American tradition. Another friend has a warm relationship with a tree, a weeping willow named Shahira. She converses with Shahira on a regular basis, which comforts me because I’ve talked to trees since childhood but was afraid to tell anyone. Doesn’t necessarily mean I’m sane, just that I’m not alone.
Now, back to my animal friends, last seen lounging at Ray’s: I saw all of these critters outside my window in a recent 24-hour period. It took awhile, but I realized they were giving me gifts, for which I’m humbly grateful.
I was sitting in my zen-den-breathing-space-sanctuary, taking an all-day Zoom workshop. Feeling anxious, out of my depth, I was focused on berating myself rather than on the subject at hand. My eyes drifted to movement outside my window; I saw six deer converging on my bird feeders. This is not unusual. But as the workshop neared its end, more and more deer emerged from the woods. By the time I signed off, there were 22 deer wandering around outside my window. The bird feeders were empty, so why were they here, gradually gathering, one by one? And why was I suddenly remembering that scary old Hitchcock movie, “The Birds”?
The next morning, I awoke with this question: How many deer does it take to remind you to be gentle with yourself? I then recalled that one of the attributes associated with deer is gentleness and realized I was being pretty hard on myself during the workshop. So, the answer, apparently, is 22.
That same day, I noticed three glossy black crows near my window, floating down for a moment, then flying off. I consulted my shaman friend, who said crows represent, among other things, transformation and change. Which is what I was seeking in the workshop.
Later, not long before dusk, I saw a coyote walking along the treeline of a nearby field, apparently to remind me to rely on my true self and my innate resourcefulness. Wisdom, brought to me by nature itself, and much cheaper than a workshop.
Do you dismiss knowledge if it comes from a source that’s outside your comfort zone? Do you miss out on insights that come from someone or something you consider “woo-woo” or weird? Do you fail to receive the message because you discount the messenger? I confess that I do, quite often. Especially, I’m ashamed to admit, if I disagree with the messenger’s political or spiritual beliefs. At other times, thankfully, I am graced with the recognition that Wisdom works in mysterious ways and comes in many forms.
Listen! There’s a woodpecker tapping on a dead tree trunk. I think she heard me pecking on my laptop and generously provided a harmonic staccato. Or maybe her taps represent some sort of Morse code: She’s a fellow writer, transmitting the story to me because she doesn’t have a power source for her laptop?
I don’t know the answer to that, but here are three takeaways from all of the above. First, leaving our comfort zone can open us to enriching experiences. Second, nature is an excellent teacher, in myriad ways. And, finally: If you see three crows, a coyote and 22 deer in a bar, put down that drink and call Uber to take you home.
Kathy Baker is a writer and speaker, a messenger of encouragement who loves to touch hearts and tickle souls with her work. She is the author of “Leaving Adversity Plaza,” and “A Tale of Three Choices: His, Hers, Mine.” She loves hearing from her readers and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.