Playing ‘Possum


My wife and I have embraced the reality that any post on social media will not gain the same traction, popularity, and “likes” unless they feature one of our two gorgeous children.  I would now say that there is one recent exception, and that is the creature you see above that entered our domain earlier this week.  I grew up watching my dad (and generally one of our dogs) defend our home from these creatures and I will admit that when my wife called to tell me, “We have a ‘possum in our backyard!” I was preparing myself for such chivalry.  After all, these are nasty-looking creatures that tend to be pests.  It is also usually a concern when a nocturnal creature of any sort is around during the day.  So here I came in a black suit ready to defend my family against this creature that generally does not receive any form of respect from humankind.

The picture and news posted brought many, many comments of all sorts varying from words of approval to words of correction (claiming they do not carry rabies, are good at preventing Lyme disease, etc.).  I cannot undo anything and I tell you the truth that I lamented the act of removing this unwanted visitor before, during, and after all was carried out.  My lament carried further the next day as I met someone at my alma mater who jokingly called out, “Hey, ‘possum killer!” and even more when my daughter explained her hypothesis that our visitor was a mother to baby ‘possums and was just coming to our yard to use our cat’s food to feed her babies.  How low could I have gone?  Just imagine and that’s how low I felt.

The perspectives range between the extremes of (1) “Heath, it’s just a lowly animal that is a nuisance and could have caused some harm to your family,” and (2) “How could you not see this animal as a living, breathing creature that deserved better?”  Might I find an UNcommon Perspetive that is useful to bring to this conversation?  I suppose it might be a merger that values the life of the creature without devaluing the protection of those under my protection.  Was my family in danger?  No, but under the right circumstances that were possible they could have been.  Should I have just let the creature “play ‘possum” and eventually creep its way down the road?  Probably.  The issue is I allowed the fear and concern of my family and myself move to the decision to take the easy way out:  Remove the problem.

Now that I am to a core issue that we deal with, I would like to allow this experience to speak meaningfully to me and I hope to you.  Fear and concern will always drive us to remove the problem so that we will not have to wrestle with the tensions of “what if” and so what?”  The UNcommon Perspective reminds me to wrestle with tension before I resolve – or remove in this case – the problem.  Growth does not take place in the solution but in the process of deciphering and dissecting the scenario that is playing out.  By wrestling further we may find the alternative that allows for good to all parties.  So, I am going to learn my lesson and remember that instead of “playing ‘possum” to fear and concern I will wrestle towards growth that will benefit all.


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