Not Now. I've Got Vole-itis

A LIFETIME AIM, NOT HABIT

I've got vole-itis. And, it itches and burns. I tell myself, “Get over it, already.” But, I can’t. Even though as a professional , I know I’ll be happier when I do. Therapists like to float this by you as "acceptance." Just don’t ask how that’s working for them. 

Getting over something, letting go, and…la dee da...is more of a lifetime aim than a daily habit. Of course, there are techniques to coax us along.

ACCEPTANCE. SURE, WHATEVER.

For starters, there's Judith Viorst, now 84, whose name maybe you know for her children's book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. She's also known for her psychoanalytic research. All the same, Viorst hones in on what “acceptance” looks like in real life. She calls it necessary losses: namely, the illusions, dependencies and expectations that all of us must give up, if we want to be happy. 

It’s about life’s necessary losses: namely, the illusions, dependencies and expectations that all of us must give up, if we want to be happy.
— Judith Viorst,

But, I can’t stomach that just now; I’ve got this vole-itis.

It began in my vegetable garden on a winter morning. Green sprouts of garlic were peeking out of snowdrifts with cheery good wishes, when my boot stepped atop a soft marshmallowy mound. The ground smooshed beneath.

Another step, and another smoosh. That’s when the sight struck me. All of the tender baby apple trees laid face-down, dead in the icy snow. Their trunks and roots, plundered by the gnawing of voles

Voles? I have voles? I can't.

Voles are kooky critters. Think of a mole, mouse, or gopher. Only, voles really love munching on the roots of food plants. They also love mating exponentially; a single vole can birth a hundred in one year. Forget the rabbit adage.

So, again, I can't have voles. Yet, a grim tune of Taps played in my head. Our brains are not wired to accept losses. Outwardly we drop casual remarks like “Sure, whatever.” But, inwardly, we clench tight. Our minds tally up vole-like menaces: aka, ways to fend off acceptance.

Above: The ways our brains ignore and fend off acceptance.

Above: The ways our brains ignore and fend off acceptance.

FUNNY BUT NOT HAHA FUNNY

Ultimately, our vole-like ways only amp up our anxiety, which is kind of funny. It’s funny in an ironic way, because we humans dislike anxiety. We go to great lengths to avoid it. Yet, our efforts actually stoke us up more. And, it burns. It itches. Those voles!

Trying to avoid anxiety is like trying to avoid living in your own skin. You can’t. The best we can do is learn how to tolerate anxiety, not make it go away.

 

Trying to avoid anxiety is like trying to avoid living in your own skin.
— The Tipsy Tomato

EASIER SAID THAN DONE

Back in the garden, the bugle playing Taps gave way to beating drums. Maybe I cursed or stomped, my memory denies any bad behavior of the incident. Opting for angry determination over defeat, I drove straight to the garden center.

Marching past various garden artillery, the pungent whiff of pesticides and other battles-in-a-bottle pacified my fears of helplessness. I’ll take it all, I must have said out loud.

With an emptied wallet, I headed home with my stockpile of control. A word: Skip the pricey-but-I’m-in-control products. They're an illusion.

After more ruminating and clenching tight, an evil laughter triumphed in my head. Seizing my shovel, I charged back out to the battleground. Striking the earth, I proclaimed, “A vole-proof fence!” 

VOLE-PROOF...??

Packing a Nobel Prize in Economics, Dr. Daniel Kahneman puts it this way: “Our judgements and decisions are guided directly by feelings of liking and disliking, with little deliberation or reasoning.” Some neuroscientists even argue that our behaviors come from as much as 90% emotional perception, leaving only 10% for facts. Like it or not, our brains' work this way. We see what we want to see.

Our judgements and decisions are guided directly by feelings of liking and disliking, with little deliberation or reasoning.
— Daniel Kahneman, MD

LIFE AS WE SEE IT

It turns out, voles can squeeze their odious little bodies through quarter-inch openings. I’d read this early on, but I thought...no, scratch that...I disliked and so felt: “That's not possible.” So, pursuing my own mindset, I trenched all the way down to China and literally devised underground wire fencing fortified with a gravel moat.

I’ve still got voles.

IN THE END, WHERE THE VOLES BURROW

Beneath the buds of sweet peppers plenty, the voles plow out caverns and eat the plants. Only now, I wonder about them more than I worry about them. Okay, usually.

Only now, I wonder about them more than I worry about them...
— The Tipsy Tomato

When my boots sink into the voles' soft mounds, I still twitch a bit. But, my mind’s eye no longer sees a horde of metal-horned Vikings chest-thumping each other at a beer keg. Instead, through a wider lens, I see mice fending for themselves, frightened at how I wish to lord over them. Gone is my illusion of control and my need for a fairytale garden.

The food-nabbing knaves never were the ones raiding my happiness. The real voles are the expectations and illusions burrowing in my mind. 

Now, if I can just let go of the leaf-munching potato beetles mating on this morning's potato leaves. I'm starting to itch and burn again.

The food-nabbing knaves never were the ones raiding my happiness. The real voles are the expectations and illusions burrowing in my mind.
— The Tipsy Tomato
Yes, seriously.  I snapped this pic without my glasses on. I thought, "Let me take a pic of this ONE pest so I can i.d. it with my glasses on later." Once I put those glasses on, whaa?...

Yes, seriously. I snapped this pic without my glasses on. I thought, "Let me take a pic of this ONE pest so I can i.d. it with my glasses on later." Once I put those glasses on, whaa?...



P.S. Voles Or No Voles...

Voles or No Voles:  Yes, Tipsy, despite what the experts say, you did grow onions from seed ~ and, the voles avoid these : )

Voles or No Voles: Yes, Tipsy, despite what the experts say, you did grow onions from seed ~ and, the voles avoid these : )

Voles or No Voles:  Last year's pansies, plucked from Home Depot and plopped into the entrance urns, self-sowed across the courtyard.

Voles or No Voles: Last year's pansies, plucked from Home Depot and plopped into the entrance urns, self-sowed across the courtyard.

Voles or No Voles:  For a first time, this year's peonies bloomed like a million hot air balloons floating low in the sky.

Voles or No Voles: For a first time, this year's peonies bloomed like a million hot air balloons floating low in the sky.

Voles or No Voles:  Apple blossoms bloom into apples, despite a late spring frost.

Voles or No Voles: Apple blossoms bloom into apples, despite a late spring frost.

Voles or No Voles:  For a time, while a dear friend opens her life to new beginnings, her peonies (once long ago passed on to her from her father) find care and sunlight in my gardens, until she may plant them at her own door again.

Voles or No Voles: For a time, while a dear friend opens her life to new beginnings, her peonies (once long ago passed on to her from her father) find care and sunlight in my gardens, until she may plant them at her own door again.