Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Trickster

I just got back home from an early morning meeting, and had just stepped out of the car, when I spotted an unusual-looking, happy dog trotting up the sidewalk. I wondered if he had spooked my cat Alex, who hates dogs. I paused and looked at him again. It didn't really look like a dog. Was it a - couldn't be a wolf. A coyote? In my little neighborhood? I turned to go put the trash can away, deciding I was crazy, and it really was a dog, when my neighbor Matt came out of his house and shouted at me. "Beth!" he said. "Look at that coyote!"

And so it was. Somehow I'd known, but had not been able to believe. Matt said he knew I'd want to know - he knows how I am about animal totems, and recognizing them. I nodded. The Trickster, I said. That's the coyote. "I know some coyotes," I told Matt. "They're all men. A bunch of coyotes, they are - in a good way though," I assured him.

Which - I do know them. And enjoy them. And love watching them trick themselves. That is Coyote's lesson - how not to so caught up in your own stories and traps that you get yourself stuck in them. Think of the Road Runner cartoons. The Coyote is always trying to "get" the Road Runner - and ends up on the wrong side of an anvil instead. And that is how it is for the Coyotes that I know. I enjoy them because they are funny and enterprising, and because they try to be so ruefully honest (when they're not setting up some sort of scheme). It's challenging medicine, the Coyote Totem. You have to love them for trying. Truth be told, I likely have a little Coyote in me. Not too much - but enough to appreciate its follies and recognize it in someone else. Thank goodness it's only one aspect of any given person. Could you imagine an entire lifetime of only playing tricks on yourself?

As the coyote continued up the sidewalk, to the next block and beyond, Matt and I watched him and waved, and wondered where he may have come from. And I wondered what coyote I'd be seeing soon. For that's how it usually goes in this world of mine. One thing leads to another - lets me know that the other is on its way. Watch out! for dropping anvils...

photo credit: Josh More, found here

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