a squirrel’s frustration

click the thumbnails to have a closer look

A squirrel needs to eat. It is led by its body’s hormonal system. The squirrel will look for the known sources, including the places where it stored food before.

Then there is that mental connection: thought tells the squirrel about those delicious hazelnuts.
But it doesn’t find them: frustration.

It finds beech nuts till satisfaction.
But the memory of eating hazelnuts lingers: Squirrel got desire.

It sees another squirrel eating hazelnuts. “I really want this!” it thinks …
Now what? Conflict? Fight? Yes fight!

Another frustration: the taste is not as good as memory told it would be.

The mental connection leads to a desire:
getting what we have liked in the past,
desiring what we could like now or in the near future (advertising).

The opposite: avoiding bad personal and/or projected experiences.

In the end mind wants the memory of experiences to be reliable.
But memory is not reliable and deforms past experiences.
Reality is ‘not reliable’, it changes all the time.

The desire  for predictability is the mother of all desires.
Desire for permanence
always leads to frustration
and to limited experiencing.

What to do?

Small desires can be forgotten.
Bigger desires might have to be followed,
to learn the lesson of eventual frustration.

Pictures by bvdb (whoisbert) January 2014 – @waterforest – Canon Ixus HS230 – IMG 5497/5528/5500-1/5513/5517


15 thoughts on “a squirrel’s frustration

  1. I used to feed the squirrels. First threw peanuts by the tree, then closer to porch, then at table where I sat. Then they would begin to take them from my hand. Pile of peanuts at bedroom door, then into apartment, then to hall, then to living room, then to kitchen. Took about a month to tame them.

    They seem to have individual personalities as well. Sneaky would grab one and dart out door. Picky would shake three or four before choosing. Gangster would take a peanut not from the pile but from the paws of another squirrel. Sorry would run in but leave with nothing. And they all waited for Emily, the matriarch to select first. I found blue jays to exhibit similar behavior.

    • Love your adventures with those funny rodents 🙂 Never lured them, but I have often observed them, when chanced. I was not aware they have a matriarchy. I’m very sure squirrels are very intelligent, and jays are known to have the IQ of a 7 y.o. in human tests. We would probably score 30 in a jay test.

  2. This is a wonderful allegory. It’s so true how the memory (and the mind in general) can trick us so effectively into a frenzy of desire…to say nothing of “imagined” taste/fantasy…

    “The desire for predictability is the mother of all desires.” Yes! Well said.

    Advertising absolutely takes advantage of this aspect of the mind…the hungry squirrel in us all!

    “Don’t you want these *special* Hazelnuts?” it asks in a syrupy voice…”They’re better than the Hazelnut you have in your paws right now! It was grown under special conditions, and seasoned with secret, delicious ingredients. Much better than your dumb old plain Hazelnut.”

    Suddenly we bite into our existing Hazelnut and it tastes dull, plain — not the deliciousness we remembered at all! The subtle notes lost in the frenzy of newly forming imagination-and-fantasy-fueled hunger for the superior advertised hazelnut.

    Nevermind that their hazelnut is chemically enhanced, has lost all nutritious value & in fact now contains harmful ingredients. That small print never reaches our poor squirrel. All he has is the DESIRE FOR THAT NUT stirred within him…and the loss of appreciation (even the *ability* to appreciate as he once did) the nut he has.

    Great post!

    On on,


  3. Love the little house pictures and captions. On a more serious note, I agree, bigger desires have to be followed to learn the lesson of eventual frustration or at least one has to pursue them in some way to realize they lead nowhere. Only the desire for God leads us somewhere though this can be frustrating, too, when we do not feel God.

    • yes, yes and yes. The last one is tricky. One will never mentally or emotionally experience Silence, Universe, or why not call It God 🙂 But the Silence, Immensity, overpowering Awe almost always starts with a physical sensoric perception …

    • … but in an allegory, it does not matter 🙂 whether it is squirrels or crows or dogs …
      Now dogs do use complex reason — i have often seen that with my own eyes — and so do cats and squirrels and crows probably too, but they will certainly not think within our conceptual mindframe, … completely different from our own tiny mental world.

  4. Awesome. The squirrels really came alive for me! I wanted to go get them some hazelnuts. You are so very right about the fact that memory deforms the past. I also have had the interesting experience where something that didn’t seem so wonderful at the time, took on increased meaning and depth as the days went by. It is as if it took me time to catch up with the richness that really happened, because I was too busy looking for hazelnuts the first time around to appreciate it. It kept working on me. So, in that case, it seems like my experience continued to unfold in time, even though the event had passed. Is it memory? What is that?


    • Perhaps it is surpassing memory by not listening to the engraved experience, and in stead start the experiencing, as it is, at the moment. (while at the same time updating memory) 🙂

      • I like that suggestion. Sometimes I think it is only later that I develop the ability to listen with greater depth to what life is offering, and the added depth results in a natural reinterpretation of the past. That reinterpretation maybe is the updating of memory you describe.

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