What Was the Beaver Thinking?

This week I’m participating in Seth Godin’s #YourTurnChallenge. My goal is to blog everyday this week (Mon-Sun) here on my site as well as on the challenge’s official Tumblr blog. Here’s my Day 3 submission.

What was the beaver thinking?

That question has haunted me the last couple of days. My family went for a walk at a local park, and my son took us off the trail so we could see his secret spot – a place near the lake’s edge where he and I had walked before. There’s a tree there that looks like a beaver or some other animal invested a great deal of time in attempting to bring said tree down.

Only at some point, the beaver (or whatever) stopped.

It’s so odd, so strangely beautiful, that I took a picture of it. Here it is:


I’ve had that picture – that tree – on my mind since then. What was the beaver thinking? Did he get bored and give up? Did she decide the tree was going to fall the wrong way and endanger lives? Did he simply lose faith in his ability to bring the tree down?

What was the little furball thinking?

I realize I’m anthropomorphizing the beaver, but even if the beaver wasn’t actively thinking, something made her stop.

And it’s been driving me insane.

What was it? What did the beaver see/feel/intuit to bring a fairly advanced project to a screeching halt?

I will never know. But it’s taught me a ton about perspective.

It’s easy to look at the tree and assume something negative. The beaver was killed. The beaver was lazy. People (or in this case beavers) don’t just leave projects unfinished unless something bad has occurred.

And I’ll admit – those were my first thoughts.

But something inside me called for another point of view, called for me to actually think about the situation instead of just snapping into my regular mindset. So I came to believe the beaver walked away. Likely because walking away was the best – the wisest – decision, even if it meant the invested time ultimately yielded no reward.

The power of perspective can make a radical difference between seeing an unfinished project as a failure or as learning space. I can’t say what the beaver was thinking, but I can say this:

Whatever his thinking, he certainly challenged mine.

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