Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Life lessons from a mouse and a cookie

The issue of persistence, even in the face of defeat, has been on my mind a lot lately. Often, wee Sinead is to blame. As she grows and takes on adult characteristics, she's decided that the Boston terrier should be in charge of the household, and we've had to resort to strict puppy boot camp techniques to force her to accept the authority of the humans. It's tiring work, and it's not always successful.

I've also been doing some intense running in the early morning hours, sans dogs, and as the weather continues to cool, running becomes less and less pleasant for me. I come back from a run tired and wet, and my times aren't really improving, but the dogs still expect their food right on time, no matter what.

I'm also working on blogging more, and driving up readership numbers, and some of my experiments are wonderful while others seem to fall flat. So when I stumbled across this piece produced by Coppyblogger, I was pretty excited. Pep talks about an issue you're struggling with are always wonderful, and the tips provided here seemed pretty straightforward and easy to implement.

And yet, just a few days later, I found a video that had the same message, but it was a little easier to understand. Click on the link above to see what I mean.

This little mouse has a gigantic cracker right in front of his nose, but he can't figure out how to haul that thing up and away. In the space of just a minute or two, he tries more than 50 different methods in order to move his big treat, and he fails each time. In fact, he seems to grow so frustrated that he thinks about giving up and walking away, but in the end, he turns back and tries just one more time. It's that last, persistent gasp that allows him to get the cracker of his dreams.

Talk about continuing to fight in the face of insurmountable odds! It's the same message found in the Copyblogger piece, but it's presented in a much more entertaining way (with fewer takeaway tips, of course, but still....).

Now, I know that I've spent an embarrassing amount of time on this blog taking apart the idea that animals can somehow be inspirational to their human counterparts, particularly when they're doing things that any other similar creature might do.

For example, I've written extensively about Lucy's blindness (examples here and here), and in each entry, I've suggested that her disability doesn't make her either more or less rewarding or inspirational than any other cat. Since she doesn't know about her disability, she doesn't valiantly overcome any challenges. She just is.

I've also written about poor disabled Seamus who had to learn how to eat when he lost part of his jaw bone to cancer. Again, I don't think I found his story inspirational as much as just sad (but feel free to read the piece here and come to your own conclusions).
Seamus the Boston terrier and his missing jaw
Seamus days after his surgery.
But I seem to have had a change of heart this week, and I blame a wee little mouse and his cracker. For some reason, I connected to his struggle with the huge cracker, and several times this week, I thought about his little mouse pep talk. Perhaps if I tried just one more time, I'd think, the same great outcome would happen to me. This isn't the kind of sea change any piece of writing might inspire in me. Only the silly animal video seemed to do the trick.

Don't worry: I won't be writing articles anytime soon about how my animals inspire me to train better, run harder or work more effectively. However, I might read such articles from others with a bit of an open mind.

What do you think? Are your animals inspiring? Share your thoughts.

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