When to Play Possum
There's never a dull moment when you have terriers. At dark-thirty this morning, the fuzzy one got up earlier than her partner-in-crime and managed to take a young possum by surprise. At the sound of her frantic I've-got-a-varmint-Mom barking, I ran and grabbed a flashlight and checked out the small, curled body.
Zippy (shown here contemplating her awesomeness) along with her newly-awakened pal, lost interest immediately, because their terrier instincts only prompt them to throttle and shake to death fleeing prey. When it comes to eating what they kill, they take a pass and opt for dog food.
I felt bad about the murder, especially when I noticed the victim was still breathing. Was it suffering, neck broken? Would I need to get the Shovel O' Doom to bring this story to its sad but seemingly inevitable conclusion?
And then I remembered we were dealing with a possum... a small furry critter, with rather dim-witted but generally well-meaning natural enemies, such as the type of "friends" and relatives who tell the emerging writer that getting published is impossible, that you have to know somebody, that success takes qualities which, it is implied, you lack, such as brilliance or persistence or luck. Instinctively driven to throttle any ambition on the move, they don't exactly mean to destroy you. They simply can't think their way past their knee-jerk naysaying habit.
If you and your ego run from them, you're dead. But if you lie very still, scarcely breathing a word of your excitement over your new story or the agent request you received on a contest entry, they'll lose interest and move on.
Keep your mouth shut and do your thing, in the face of human terriers. Then, when you finally succeed, you'll get to listen to them proudly woofing: "I always knew you had it in you!"
Note from the Author: No animals were harmed in the making of this metaphor. All creatures, canine and opossinine (or whatever the heck the term is) lived to fight another day. In other words, the minutes the dogs went inside, the shrewd little guy got up and scooted to safety.