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Thursday, October 20, 2011

insights: the bunny who was not a coyote

Once upon a time there lived an extraordinary bunny. She was exactly what a bunny should be. Her fur was soft, white and fluffy as virgin snow, her ears were the radiant pink of a conch seashell and her jump, well, her jump had the perfect amount of ebullient bounce.

With each morning Bunny bounced out of her nest determined to be the best bunny she could be. She was careful in selecting the ripest kale and organic vegetables she could find. And when she did find a bounty of delicious vegetables she brought her family and friends in to share in her good fortune. Bunny was happy and loved.

One day, her parents who loved her said “Come sit by us.” Bunny sat next to her parents expectantly. Happily.  She knew she was loved and that every day she was 100% the best Bunny she could strive to be. Her mother spoke first. “Bunny, we love you and you are indeed a very good bunny. Have you noticed though that your aunts and uncles and your father and I gather just inside the warren every morning at 10am to watch the Coyote who runs past our home every morning? Her father, a rather large bunny with perfectly wonderful floppy ears continued “He is magnificent. His coat is grey and not too long. He has very straight teeth and he can run, good golly he can run like the wind. He doesn’t bounce slowly with happy abandonment. No, he is serious, focused and he runs with a determined purpose. You know, you could learn from Coyote. Maybe not bounce around so silly. Look at how Coyote is revered.” (Coyote and her father went way back to when they were young together. There was a detente and no fear that Coyote would harm their family.)

Bunny thought for a moment and decided her parents were right. She would be more like Coyote. She would stop her silly grinning and her bouncing and every day she would try to become more like the serious Coyote whom her parents and every adult she knew respected and admired. Coyote was everything the bunnies weren't.

And so, before her parents got up she rose every morning just as the sun did. She made a decision to stop her silly, happy ways and instead trained to be more like Coyote. But every day she failed. When she saw her aunt she bounced happily over to her with a big grin on her face. She could’t help it. It was what she was: a happy bunny. Oh, how she tried though. Instead of bouncing footfoot, footfoot she tried to run like Coyote right front paw, left back paw, left front paw, right back paw but no matter how slowly she tried she tumbled over herself in a somersault and she laughed. She tried over and over and each time she felt uncoordinated until she fell into a somersault which made her laugh ever time. That was until her father walked by and saw her feeble attempts to be more like Coyote. Bunny’s eyes stung with hot tears when she saw her father look away from his clumsy daughter. She was a very bad Coyote.

Each day she tried though to be faster, sleeker, more serious, more focused but each day she grew more clumsy, more bruised and more defeated. Her parents encouraged her to watch Coyote every morning. “You’re doing good Bunny! We are so proud of you for growing up to be more like Coyote! You can be more than just a silly bunny like us!” But as she tried she just failed, day after day. Her body wasn’t meant to be a Coyote, and a terrible Coyote at that. She knew she would never get the respect that Coyote got from their neighborhood. She would always be the dumb, clumsy Bunny. It came to be that she was trying to so hard to be something that she wasn’t that she could’t even remember what it was like to be the best Bunny in the world.

The next morning when the sun rose Bunny felt the warmth of the sun but she closed her eyes harder and tucked her head under her paws and nestled in further in the grassy nest of her parent’s warren. There was no need to get up and be a bad Coyote. This went on for a few days until one day her mother came to sit beside her.

Bunny’s mom, with the softest pink paws in the land, said to Bunny “We were wrong, Bunny. You are the best Bunny in the world. Your white fur is soft and long. Your bounce is one that brings joy to you and everyone who sees you and you are kind and smart. We would rather have you be a happy Bunny than a sad Coyote. A Coyote is a Coyote. He will never be able to run with happy abandonment. Can you even imagine what that would look like?” and she laughed. “Bunny, love what you are. We do and we are sorry that we tried to make you be something you’re not. Be happy, Bunny.” And with that Bunny tumbled with joy at the news that she was loved exactly as she was. At that moment some of the older bunnies gathered in front of Bunny. She quivered at the sight. Her eyes stared at the grass. “Bunny,” the oldest bunny said to her. Bunny looked up. “We have all noticed your happy, joyful bounce and we were wondering if you could teach the little ones to embrace their bunniness? Would you?” With that the smaller bunnies in the warren appeared before her.

Bunny smiled “Yes, absolutely yes” and with that she bounced with incandescence. She was the very best bunny that ever was.

What are you? Are you the best possible you that you can be or are you trying to be someone else? Are you miserable and mediocre in law school, doing what you think you should be doing following in your mother and grandfather’s footsteps (and because they are paying for school) but are you a gifted baker and have always wanted to open an organic muffin shop? Are you dating someone who looks great on paper (money, status,   gorgeous) but who treats you poorly?  Are you in a job you hate but you can’t bear to leave because of the money?

What I have found out recently is that life is so incredibly, profoundly extraordinary and you get one shot at this. Do you live each day in the same monotonous way? You get up, drive to work to a job that you could do in your sleep, come home, have dinner, watch TV and fall asleep on the couch? Here is the thing.

This life of yours is YOURS, no one else’s. You can do with your life as you please. Within reason, of course. Your wife may get upset if you say “Babe, I have always wanted to surf in Belize. Have fun with the kids. See ya!" Instead you could sit down with your spouse, instead and say “Babe, if I have to go into that job one more day and sit through one more meeting my brain is going to go away and never come back. What would you think if we took a month off and surfed in Belize, all four of us?” Too much? You say you can’t do that? Then how about this: “Babe, my job is sucking the life out of me. I need to reevaluate my career. Let’s get a babysitter and grab some pizza and rethink what we want our life to be."

Are you the best possible you or are you trying to be something you’re not because it is what is expected of you? You do, believe it or not, have the power to make your life into something that would blow future you’s mind. Life is not fulfilling to YOU if you are working to make someone else happy or you are doing something because you are told you should. I will never, ever be an Olympic figure skater. No matter how many times I am told “You have world class figure skaters in your family! You can do this!” I will not become an Olympic class figure skater because I have no interest in this. However, if all I wanted in this beautiful world is to figure skate then I can imagine that I could very possibly be the next world champion because I want it that badly and I would dedicate my life to it. Now let’s say that I was completely uncoordinated (which I, unfortunately am. Zumba confounds me) and yet I still wanted to be a world class figure skater with all my heart. Could I do it? I could try and fail and fail and fail and have my self-confidence be destroyed. Or I could find something else I am good it and go for that. I could become the very best distance skater and the faster I became, the more my self confidence would improve which would cause me to want to train harder and become better and eventually win the title of the world’s best distance skater.

Take out a piece of paper or open a document and right now write down what makes you happy. Go with free association. Write down any words that come to mind: ocean, cotton candy, dolphins, pink, coffee. . .Now write down when you have been happiest in your life. Who do you respect? Write that down. Look at your list. What threads are there in common? What can you do to move towards that brilliant life of yours? It’s right there for you.

You don't have to be Bunny or Coyote. Be You. There is only one you and you are the most amazing you.

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