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Even a chipmunk can teach zen

September 1, 2008

From Star Press
By Tish Turgeon

A few weeks ago, a chipmunk darted in the open back door of our office. It’s nearly impossible to find a chipmunk that doesn’t want to be found, so “Simon” (from Simon, Theodore and Alvin fame), spent the weekend hanging out in the office alone.
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The landscapers that came in over the weekend opened up the doors, thinking that Simon would just sneak out the way he had snuck in. I guess while we were giving him an opportunity to escape, he was checking out the new digs and choosing the best places to set up chipmunk-shop.

Although we thought he’d left us, late on Monday Simon was spotted making a break for it. Being a soft-hearted bunch, we generously laid out our leftover Chinese noodles and a fortune cookie to feed the little fella, who surely must be ravenous by now.

By the end of the day, nothing was eaten, but we were sure we had him cornered to the back offices, … my set of offices. The doors were shut, and the rest of the employees left, and there I was alone in the back for two hours, absolutely sure that Simon was going to jump out at any second. I could barely even concentrate on my work, so intent was I on watching out for that little chipmunk. In my head, he became the chipmunk star of a Stephen King novel.

When I left that night, I opened the back door and walked around the offices, banging on the furniture, trying to convince Simon that it was check-out time. Being unsuccessful, I set the alarm and left. As I pulled out of the driveway, I looked at the full-plate-glass front door at the other end of the building, and there sat Simon, up on his haunches, perusing the world. Simon had been nowhere near me.

Simon feasted on Chinese before being caught and released, but not before he left a little “Simon present” on my computer keyboard. He reminded me that the world filtered through our perceptions might hold little resemblance to actual reality. Perception is internal.

Tish Turgeon is a mother/stepmother of five, grandmother of four and practicing Buddhist at Muncie Meditation and Dharma. She also explores Zen through quilting and cross-stitch.

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