The Ballad of Contrary Frog

December 16, 2014

IMG_3932I was looking for a birthday/christmas card for a friend so I could mail out her gift, and found one I’d bought for the frogs on the cover. On the inside it says:

“We may be getting “up there,”
but there’s no need for tears,
’cause we only gain in wisdom
with perspective on the years.”

What the heck kind of crappy card is that? Don’t cry because you’re old? Really?

Then, because everything’s connected, I was looking at a small pack of animal spirit cards that my friends in an altered book group made with me, based on Jamie Sam’s & David Carson’s Medicine Cards, and found Frog:

“Frog teaches us to honor our tears, for they cleanse the soul.”

Still not terribly upbeat for a birthday card, but I kept reading:

“Contrary frog can represent an unwillingness on your own part to sip the mire out of your life. Mud can turn from mire to bog to quicksand if you don’t recognize its effect on your current situation. Frog in the contrary position is an omen that you are courting disaster if you don’t stop and smell the lilies, eat some flies, bask in the sun, and “ribit” until the rain comes to refill your spirit.”

Contrary frog. I love the sound of that, the brevity. I imagine a client calling me up:

“Sue, you gotta help me. I have Contrary Frog.”

“Contrary frog? Dude, let’s get to work then. Say more!”

So now I’m thinking about frogs. I usually only see them in late Fall, or early Spring, when the little ones are all over the road at night and I’m driving along trying not to think of how many of them I’m running over. Hop, little guys, hop! But I never really thought of them as having anything to teach me, other than for the love of god don’t look in the tire tread.

But then a little more thought and coffee made me think about how vociferously Martha Beck advocates rest and doing nothing as the foundation of any kind of transformation. Struggling in quicksand doesn’t help. You can cross the world hunting for sunlight and either way you’ll either drown or spend a lot of money on air fare.

Waiting is hard.

Changing your perspective is even harder. Or easier, if you can stay still and not worry about being run over by a car. According to Sam’s and Carson’s book, Frog “encourage(s) you to clear old opinions and beliefs to adopt a new stance and perspective.”

Frog, see, is a little green Byron Katie. Katie has a wonderful book called Loving What Is — and if you read it, it will make you both love her and want to run her over with a car. If you argue with reality, she says, you will always lose. So why would you do that? Take any thought, any story you tell yourself, and ask yourself “is it true?”

Of course, it’s easier said than done. But if you rest, still, in one place, put down your stories and your other weapons of self-destruction, one thing is always true. Or at least always IS. The sun comes out. What was mud turns to dirt again. Dry land gets quenched, and if you listen closely the whispering of the trees tells new stories, ones that just might bring you back to life.