🐾 A Raccoon would tell you that self-responsibility is uber-important to being a successful adult. 🐾
It’s that time of the week again and although my raccoon friend almost got pushed back another week thanks to the Florida Panthers, here we are. I could not let the fun little nocturnal mammal moment of glory be stolen, although she did run off with yet another of our food bowls.
You see, as you have likely figured out by now, I am a sucker for animals. Well, so is my husband. Animals to us are like drugs to an addict, except we don’t require an intervention…yet.
In case you are doubting me…
We have 5 cats – 3 of which are foster fails that we bottle-fed as they were motherless at a week old. All of who spend their day lazing on the screened-in deck that was on our list of “must haves “ when we bought our house.
We have 5 different types of bird feeders to supply the differing needs of the different species of birds that visit. Oh, and a bird bath because the creek on our property isn’t enough water for the birds, or any of the other critters for that matter.
We have a specially designed bungee cord that holds corn for the squirrels and the deer. You heard that right. We paid for a specially made string to not only feed the animals but entertain them as well.
We have a bird nesting on the wreath on our front door, so we cannot use the front door. And we have a different one nesting in our newspaper delivery box, so we haven’t received a newspaper in weeks.
We feed at least one stray cat, Charlie, premium wet and dry food on our porch, and have been for almost 3 years. We would take him in, but he won’t have it. So, it’s his bowls that the raccoons visit, his kibble that they finish off, and his bowls that they steal.
The downside to the bowl relocation services provided by our masked friends is that Charlie needs to use different bowls until we find his. Being a creature of habit, this does not make him very happy. Luckily, he’s not a complainer. However, the upside – for us humans anyway - is that the raccoons have deemed us to be friends with benefits. We not only feed them but we provide them with something to do when they are bored. Therefore, they visit us quite frequently.
Sneaking onto our porch at night has been a really big raccoon, a smaller-sized one, and a couple of cat-sized ones. Last year, we got to see a few of their babies frolicking on our porch whilst mom enjoyed what was left for her in the bowl by Charlies' full belly.
As we have been lucky enough to witness, baby raccoons stay with their parents, in their nest for 2-3 months until they are ready to go out and live on their own for the rest of their life – about 2-5 years in the wild. They can live up to a decade if they have abundant food, water, and shelter in a predator-free environment. On rare occasions, if they are lucky enough to be rescued by trained individuals, they can live up to 20 years in captivity. This means that no matter how long their lives are, basically newborn raccoons have 2-3 months to learn everything that they need to know to live life as a raccoon and to survive and thrive in its environment. They need to learn what to do and how to do it. And to be successful, to live, and to continue the species, it needs to do it well.
Talk about pressure!
How do they learn all they need in such a short time? By what’s been engrained into them for eons, self-responsibility.
Think about it. Strangely, we all – raccoons and humans alike - need to learn to be self-responsible to develop into mature successful, surviving, and thriving adults. We need to take care of ourselves so that we can provide for others and be an example for future generations.
By being responsible it means taking full responsibility for one’s actions. If you break it down, you get the root words “response” and “ability”. Responsibility, therefore, means having the ability to respond. Add in self, and self-responsibility means you not only have the ability to respond, but you have the ability to take responsibility for your entire life with decision and choice.
Take our raccoon friend. She will come up to our porch to eat with her back to the wall, while facing, snout down, eyes up, getting a bite. Then she steps away from the bowl, to look out into the yard while she chews. She made the choice for an easy meal, but it did not slack on its responsibility to protect itself from would be predators or food thieves. She gets what she needs and wants, but does it safely.
Now, hand in hand with self-responsibility, almost synonymous, is self-accountability. If you break it down you get “account” and “ability”. Accountability therefore means owning the ability to account for your own life; to be answerable for the obligations and duties you have in your life by the very nature of being who or what, in the case of the raccoon, you are. You live by honoring yourself and your code.
This in no way means that you have to accept everything that happens to you. However, when something goes wrong, you are able to work to find a solution rather than make excuses or place blame.
For example, I am sure at some point in time, the racoon learned what would happen if it ate its food with its back to the yard. It might have felt good to get that food in quicker, but when another racoon, or a coyote was looking for an easy meal, it learned to hold itself accountable for any injury it would sustain. It was responsible/accountable to do what it needed to until when or if it healed.
By accepting responsibility we grow and are provided with a sense of freedom.
We are able to discover that we alone are responsible for our own happiness. And at the same time, we are not 100% responsible for other people, or for their happiness.
We are able to take control of our lives and in our own destiny.
And, just like the raccoon, we have the courage that we need to stand up for ourselves so that we can face any challenges that come our way and speak our minds with confidence.
Try following the advice of our ring-tailed friends, take responsibility for what you do, learn from your mistakes, and have a little fun in the process. It might just get you moving in the direction you need to go to be successful in your environment.
Oh, and please make sure not to steal anyone’s bowls, even if it is fun.