Fence Rats and Monkey Traps

The other side of the back property line where we live has what we lovingly refer to as a fence rat — a cute little dog who sticks his head under the fence and yaps every time I come or go. I tried to make friends by giving him dog biscuits. Len’s afraid his collar’s going to get caught on the bottom of the fence and he’ll be stuck there until someone comes to his rescue. “Greedy little bugger!” (referring to the dog), “See what you started?” (referring to me).


The neighboring dog reminds me of the monkey traps described in Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where certain tribes leverage the monkeys’ greed to their advantage. They hollow out a gourd, leaving the opening just large enough for a monkey’s hand to go through to reach a sweet treat. When the monkey (unaware that the vine attached to the gourd is staked to the ground out of sight) reaches in to get the treat, the opening is too small for its now-clenched fist to pass back through. Escape is entirely possible if he’ll just let go, but he won’t because he chooses to hang on to the treat. At this point the tribespeople come along and it’s easy pickings…

What won’t you let go of?

© lauriebuchanan.com

Guarding One’s Rice Bowl

After eating, each of our three dogs typically inspect each other’s empty bowls. This morning, Willa actually lay down—paws on either side of Lexi’s bowl—and guarded it. Her behavior brought to mind a true story that I share in my manuscript:

Guarding One's Rice Bowl

Guarding One's Rice Bowl

The owner of a yoga studio had an instructor working for her who was amazing. So amazing, in fact, that the owner started working from a place of envy and fear. 

You see, the owner feared that the instructor was even better than herself. As a result, she didn’t promote the instructor’s classes. In fact, she squelched them. As you can well imagine this impacted two things:

1. It diminished the owner’s income (a case of cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face).

2. It provided the amazing instructor with the opportunity to be mindful of the shifting circumstances. Being mindful—without being fearful—gave her the final push she needed to launch her own yoga studio.

The individual sitting at life’s banquet with their arms wrapped protectively around their “rice bowl” is missing out on the joy, conversation, and interaction with the other people at the party. They’re functioning from a place of lack.

When we sit back in a relaxed position and share our time, talent, praise, and support, giving freely from our “rice bowl,” our life is rich. We function from a place of inner wealth.

Have you ever cut off your nose to spite your face?

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               — Laurie Buchanan

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© 2011 Laurie Buchanan – All Rights Reserved