“We can live any way we want.  People take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience—even of silence—by choice.  The thing is to stalk your calling in a certain skilled and supple way, to locate the most tender and live spot and plug into that pulse.  This is yielding, not fighting.  A weasel doesn’t ‘attack’ anything; a weasel lives as he’s meant to, yielding at every moment to the perfect freedom of single necessity.”

— Annie Dillard, “Living Like Weasels”


I haven’t yet learned how to yield.

In her essay, Annie Dillard recounts a story of an eagle shot out of the sky and found to have a weasel skull attached to it’s throat; the weasel having had fought back against the eagle and almost won, never letting go despite its defeat.  The weasel dying as it lived, yielding to its single necessity of being.

I haven’t yet learned how to yield.  More accurately, I haven’t unlearned bias and motive and endless thought.

There have been moments.  Glimpses of the yielding, when my body has laid on the earth and the hard barriers have melted away until the movement of breath came not from my lungs but from the ground; moments when experience overtook thought.

But the weasel.  How it held to the eagle’s neck.  Have I held to the eagle’s neck?

Haven’t there been times when I’ve dangled from necessity?  Times when thought played no role in decision, times when I felt the pull of life beyond choice, and followed.


But I’ve let go.

At least, I’ve unhinged my jaw and questioned.

Is the process of unlearning the same as the process of learning?  For so long I’ve thought that letting go was what I was after.  Letting go of bias and motive and thought.  Letting go of assumption and comparison and judgement.  I’ve leaned so long on the phrase “to let go” that I’ve let go, too, of living like weasels.

The weasel doesn’t spend so many words on something like living.

Of course.  And I’m not a weasel, though I can learn, or unlearn, in order to live like one.  To yield, to grasp, to dangle from my one necessity and let myself fly to wherever it takes me.