In response to Claudette’s weekly writing challenge #11: Synchronicity
All of this happened about seven years ago, and to make it as brief as possible, I will simply number the incidents and outline them briefly.
1. Driving to an evening class, an animal raced across the busy city street just in front of my vehicle. It was moving so fast, it took a few seconds to register that the animal was a fox.
2. Two weeks later, while a passenger in someone else’s car, as she turned into a one-way side street, she started laughing when she caught the bright eyed reflection of two foxes playing in a yard as we quietly passed. My friends enjoy the often unusual encounters we have with wild creatures.
3. Two nights later, standing in the living room while talking to my daughter at three in the morning, I caught movement at the curb across the street from my bay window. A fox loping down the street. When I told my daughter, we both moved closer to the window and watched as the fox stopped beneath the streetlamp for a moment, to stare back at us, then leisurely continued his journey.
4. Several nights afterward, in yet another class, I spoke of all the foxes I had been seeing and was wondering at the significance of their appearance. After class, leaving with a student, she started laughing when she spotted the silhouette of yet another fox, loping down the street across from us. She told me that if I didn’t figure it out soon, they would be climbing through my window and jumping on my bed to get my attention.
I have lots of books about animal mythology, but wasn’t finding anything in them except vague possibilities about what all this might mean. Finally picked up Speaking of Animals: A Dictionary of Animal Metaphors, written by Robert A. Palmatier. And finally found pay-dirt.
According to the author, the phrase smart as a fox does not pertain to intelligence levels, but actually refers to the behaviors of that animal when he is being tracked. A fox will often run in the tracks of another animal to throw off the scent. I had been backtracking through a lot of old material at the time, seeing if I could find a new perspective on certain issues in my classroom.
The fox will also backtrack in his own footprints for the same reason. I related that to my habit of rereading my own journal pages, especially the one from the day before, to simply keep track of where I am at so as not to get too repetitive (stale and uninteresting, even if I am the only one who will ever read them).
A fox will often criss-cross shallow streams and rivulets in order to cleanse his back trail of scent. That made sense to me because I often engage in active meditation as a cleansing activity, and see my own journal pages as a means of getting rid of the garbage from yesterday, freeing me to deal with today.
But the last of these behaviors was, as far as I was concerned, the most important one. In order to confuse his pursuers, often hunting dogs, the fox will travel along the tops of stone fences. The dogs, keeping their wonderful noses to the ground, lose the scent and become utterly confused.
In my mind, there is nothing so stone-like as the human mindset, my own included. We are creatures of habit and dearly love to remain in our own comfort zones, especially where thought process is concerned. We do have a habit of thinking that because something has been a certain way in the past, it will always be that way into forever. So, we often don’t take other possibilities into consideration when faced with change. That is just what I was doing in my personal life.
I knew I needed some things to change. Had tried several ways to institute that reality and with no success. I was moving toward giving up. I needed to get above my own stony mindset. Once I did, the path forward became quite clear and the changes occurred quite rapidly and successfully.
A couple of weeks later, I was walking into the Post Office to pick up mail. Three women from the local zoo were in the lobby with several wild creatures from the petting section of the zoo, obviously trying to get people interested in visiting with their children.
My eye was caught by a particular silky, golden-haired beauty one of the women was holding. I asked her what it was. She told me it was a rather rare African Fox. I began to tell her of my own recent experiences. She was extremely adamant that I had to be mistaken about what I had been seeing because there were no foxes within the city. She was sure of that. I didn’t argue, just smiled and went about my business, thinking of those stony mindsets.
The fox is one creature that is easily recognizable, especially in profile. Its triangular ears are large, almost as large as the rest of its face and snout put together, and they are usually pricked forward. But the most obvious and most seeable thing about him is that he is the only four-legged creature that runs or lopes with his tail half-cocked and parallel to the ground. That is exactly what I had been seeing again and again.
I have only seen two foxes in the seven years since all of this occurred. Both were while sitting on the front porch at about four in the morning. And both times, I was there because I was struggling with the need for changes. When they appeared and disappeared from view, all I could think of was, “Get above the mindset, Elizabeth, remember to get above the mindset.”