How do the ways Oscar dealt with his limitations guide us with ours?
How often do you learn something by just observing others? Personally, I am a visual person and learn greatly from simply “stealing” (in a positive way, of course) from others. I watch and listen to people I feel know more than me (which is not a hard objective) and observe how they react to events in their lives. Also I ask a lot of questions because I’m constantly on the search to learn something new that I can use to help me understand human nature and surroundings.
One philosophy of mine is that “intelligence is inversely related to how smart you think you are”. In other words, the smartest people I know seem to be the most humble about their intelligence because they believe that the more they learn, the more they realize how much you don’t know. The converse is true for that those individuals who “know it all” because I don’t see them as being bright because they have stopped learning and have plateaued.
Ok, so how does this fit with Oscar’s story? Oscar has two phobias as presented in the book, acrophobia (fear of heights) and claustrophobia (fear of closed in places). The first is very serious and second one is a nuisance. By observing how he deals with these limits, one can learn about how to overcome those fears, or at least, limit their impact on their lives.
He reacts to the first one (where the squirrel invites Oscar to stay in his hole for the winter) by simply acknowledging that he has a problem and avoiding the situation that will cause him discomfort (i.e., he declines the offer). This fits with another philosophy of mine, which is to consciously move toward things that make you happy and move away from things that make you unhappy. In Oscar, his response was to go on seeking other more positive options.
His reaction to the more serious fear of heights was to learn, on his own, some other means to compensate for the limitations which turned out to be skim-fishing to be able to eat, and squinting to be able to fly. He searched for answers by talking to other animals around the lake. He adjusted his course due to the changing conditions of winter and animal threats. He adapted.
So the guiding message from Oscar’s story is to be willing to adjust and adapt to whatever your situation or condition is. To persevere in seeking happiness. Life is worth it!