Last week, as we bicycled from Redwood City to Pleasanton, CA, we passed a dead skunk with one arm extended on the side of the road. Dylan's voice popped into my head: "I wonder what it was reaching for in its last moments?" In that moment, I realized I don't know anything about skunks, besides the widely shared opinion that they are nuisances and the fact that they emit a foul odor that can be muted by bathing in tomato juice. But what do skunks eat? Where do they live?
I rode on.
Several days later, we passed another dead skunk that reminded me of my silly ponderances, but this time I began to wonder if my ponderances really were so silly. While every analogy breaks down at some point (according to Bret Widman), my skunk encounters and subsequent thoughts led me to wonder at the People whom I don't know anything about. Who is simply a smelly nuissance? Or, to a lesser extent, whose gifts do I not recognize?
This challenging thought took my imagination across borders, far away from myself. There are a lot of People in Our world who are not wholly acknowledged and treated accordingly. Hopefully, this trip will help to rectify that in some small way.
My skunk analogy and hours of contempletive riding also smacked me in the face last week. Sometimes, I fail to recognize the gifts of good friends, people with whom I interact everyday. This was a difficult and humbling lesson from which I hope to grow.
Who are the skunks in (or out, as the case may be) of your life?