On my way across the yard to auntie's house the other night, I saw something freeze on my doorstep. As I peered through the window of my door, I saw that it was an opossum. This was the first time I'd ever seen one so near (and not road kill). So, being the insane animal lover that I am, I didn't think before I opened the door. I didn't think about being bitten. I didn't think about being scratched. I didn't think about the possibility of rabies. It may have been reckless and foolish and, well, just plain stupid, but I didn't think of being attacked by a wild animal that has often been equated with rabies and other unsavory diseases. My adoration and heart full of love for nature and all that dwells within it took over that part of my mind.
And I opened the door.
And what do you suppose happened?
For an instant, a split second, the little darling, spooked and wondering gazed at me with it's shiny, black-pearl eyes. A blink later, it had turned tail and scurried to find the nearest hiding spot. It didn't play dead, as most opossums do. In fact, this is the defense mechanism for which they are best known! No; the sweet thing attempted to wedge itself between the edge of my "deck" and the fence along the side of my yard. Being too small a space, it's rear end was left exposed and its tail, as close to the fence wall as it could get, made a graceful curve up and over its back; the hook of a pink, shepherd's staff.
Staying my doorway, now realizing that a scratch or a bite would not be positive, I offered soothing sounds in the form of, "Oh, it's okay, little one. I won't hurt you. You don't have to run. I'm not after you. I'll let you decide where to go, but I won't follow you, okay? It's alright. Oh, you're so sweet!" It's pointed face slowly popped out of hiding to look at me once more. "It's okay." With this, in a flash it had turned round and began a quick walk around the perimeter of my yard; staying against the fence and repeatedly glancing back to me in my doorway. I can only assume that it was making sure that I was not following, as promised.
It hurried past the opening between mine and auntie's yards, along another short stretch of fencing, past another opening into a side yard, then into the shadows beside Witch Cottage. There, I could tell from the cease of scrambling through the dried, dead leaves of forgotten Fall, it had stopped. From the shadows, it watched and waited. Would I follow, now? Would I hunt it with a broom and shoo it away, just as I am certain others have done to the dear in the past?
No; I would do none of that. I murmured words of parting, stepped outside my door, shut it behind me and went along my way.
What is Opossum teaching me? Ted Andrews writes in his book Animal Speak, Opossum teaches us how to use appearances. Sometimes it is necessary to "play dead." Sometimes it is necassray to put up a particular front to succeed most easily and effectively. ... It can also show you when others are putting up false fronts and deceptions. ... Sometimes it is necessary to behave or act in a strategic manner. We may need to appear fearful or fearless in spite of how we truly feel. We may need to show submission or aggression. We may need to be apathetic or extremely caring."
Now, to what part of my life is opossum referring? I have been racking my brain trying to figure this out. Perhaps I should do a meditation? Of course, typing this all out right now, the one item that has been in the forefront of my mind for the past however many months is my personal life and the possibility of sharing it with someone. The fellow that I having totally been crushing on is what I think about approximately 50% of the time. I have been pulling back a lot, as of late. I came extremely close to finally asking him out the other day. But, alas! distractions abound and it was again, bad timing. I learn more every time, though. I'm gaining knowledge as I hold back. However, could Opossum be telling me to walk away now while I've got the chance? It's okay to look back to make sure that I'm not being followed, but only for that reason. Or it is telling me to get over that fear, even if it's choking me, and just do it? My emotions tell me the former. My heart tells me that it's the latter. Play dead or flight? Notice, though, that neither is "fight?" This is a delicate matter. I think that I have been playing the "flight" card for some time, now. Perhaps it is finally time to stick around, chat with him and casually slip it in there, instead of the rabid thrashing about that's taking place in my mind over this.
So, "play dead," huh? It'll certainly help me know if he is really interested, or if he's just giving really lovely customer service. *^_^*