This Time Don't Play Dead

Last night when I opened the backdoor to let the puppy out one last time before going to bed, something low to the ground just a few feet into the yard caught my eye when it moved.

Is it a really big mouse? A gopher? 

When the motion sensor light clicked on I realized it was a baby opossum. Its body was no bigger than a small squirrel, but with its round eyes and hairless tale and big claws, it was undeniably an opossum.

As the dog and cat tumbled out the door between my feet I thought, “Oh this isn’t going to end well for my little friend here.” 

But the domestic four-leggeds had other agendas that they carried out, oblivious to his presence. 

Curious, I stepped closer.  

He opened his mouth wide to show me his teeth and hissed. Then he calmly turned and slowly walked in the other direction.

Still curious, I followed him from a respectful distance.

He went about his way, but any time he felt it wasn’t a respectful distance he stopped, looked me in the eye, bared his teeth, raised his claws and in his tiny little stature made it clear that he meant business.

It wasn’t until I went back inside that I remembered that opossums are the ones who usually play dead when they feel threatened. They rely upon diversion. In a bind? Play dead until the would-be attacker loses interest, and then run for all your worth for safety.  In this way, oppossums are master strategists and superb actors in their attempt to avoid confrontation.

There is definitely wisdom in not getting sucked into the drama of intense situations or in using your mind to come up with the best strategy to avoid getting hurt. 

But there is something to be said about facing difficult situations head-on and showing them what you got, no matter how small you feel.

When I got into bed last night I smiled to the dark room as I thought about my backyard encounter. His message to me: “This time, don’t play dead.”

Does a situation you’re in call for more teeth and less diversion? 

Is your strategy serving you, or is it time to be direct?

Need some help saying what needs to be said?

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