Scuttling Salamanders

I’ve been sitting here watching a baby salamander scampering around the deck as it seeks out insects to eat. It scuttles from point A to point B, its nose to the deck pavement, never looking up, never seeing the small space beyond its own nose.

As I watch it scuttle from one spot to another, I keep thinking that if it would only raise its head up, if it would only look out instead of down, it might have an easier time finding food.

There are several pockets of insects—small ants, flies, and centipedes—scattered across the deck, but with its head pointed down it only sees what it stumbles across, what pops up right in front of it.

Unfortunately, a lot of people I meet are like that, too. They scurry forward, never looking right or left, bent to their tasks and unable to see anything except what is directly before them. But there is so much more to life, if they would only lift their heads and look around. Yet, there they go, nose down, eyes fixed straight ahead, unwilling to buck the status quo, afraid to try anything different.

I know life is about choices, and that if they choose to follow that path of unawareness, then it’s not my place to judge. But still, it saddens me that they can’t even see the beauty around them. That they’re so frightened by everything that they continue to follow the same path every day forever. And it’s probably the same path that their parents/church/school followed, and then taught them to follow.

I want so badly to find a way to shake them up, jar them out of that path (that rut) and make them see the joy and beauty that exists around them. Maybe they bother me so much because they remind of myself and the way I was a while ago.

I had gone to work for a company, and while not great, it was an okay job. But about 3 years into the job, the company was bought out by another. Now the job was no longer just okay, it was horrible. The people I had enjoyed working with either left or were laid off, the tasks I enjoyed doing were taken away, and I was left with my head down following a path I no longer looked at.

With head down, I convinced myself to stay. I gave myself a dozen different reasons for staying, but if you looked at all them closely, they all came down to fear. It took getting laid off to make me recognize how blind I had been, and I swore I would never let myself become that immersed in the fear again.

So now I keep my head up; I look at the world around me, and I watch the path unfold in front of me. I get to see the joy, the beauty, and the love that fill the world around me, and I revel in the knowledge that I might have missed all of that had I continued to hide my head in fear.

But I also see the others, who unlike me, have yet to release their fears; have yet to raise their heads and see the wonders of the world we live in. And I hope that they soon reach a point in their lives that forces them out of their ruts, out of their paths of fear, and onto the path of joy and love.


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