How does passion lead to purpose? In Tom Rapsas’ new book, Thaddeus Squirrel: A Spiritual Fable, the main character realizes that working day and night foraging for acorns, more than he would ever need, is meaningless to him. He ends up running away from his tribe of squirrels as he’s not accepted for his difference of opinion. On his journey, he is gravely injured by a dog, then cared for by a group of chipmunks who have wisdom to share.
The chipmunk who saved his life, Sol, is a sage old guy who starts offering Thaddeus new questions to peruse and new ideas to consider… ultimately, that his life has meaning, and it’s up to him to find that meaning within himself.
Sol says, “I’m going to do more than tell you about the meaning of life. I’ll show you how to find it, first-hand… the meaning for you may be different than the meaning for me.” It takes time, but Thaddeus begins to learn to look within himself to find the spark of light, of wisdom, that is within us all.
Some of the wisdom Thaddeus learns:
“The things we love to do, are the things we are meant to do.”
“Your purpose almost never involves you alone, there will be others involved too.”
“Knowledge feeds the mind. Wisdom feeds the mind and every part of your being.”
“Heaven is here now…Hell is here too. You choose your destination by how you live your life, the path you choose.”
While this book is written for a YA audience, I think readers of any age will be entertained by the story and inspired by the message and wisdom imparted in the book. For instance, how do you know when your inner voice is coming from intuition or from fear? “When it’s your intuition, you’ll know it in both your head and your heart.”
You can buy this book for your older children to read themselves or for you to read to your younger children. It will open up many topics for discussion, in a light-hearted way, that can help them find their true nature and passion in this life.
THANKS TO AUTHOR TOM RAPSAS FOR THE INTERVIEW:
Who do you see as the audience for this book?
I first started writing this book as a fairy-tale for my 5-year old daughter, but ended up working on it, off and on, for over 10 years. As the years went by, the content and ideas within the book got deeper—to the point where the audience became teens and young adults. (My daughter is 17 now.) I think the book is a good introduction to spirituality for the 13-22 age group, though I believe its core messages are something that people of all ages can relate to.
Why did you choose chipmunks as teachers for the squirrel?
I think it relates to my own spiritual upbringing. I was raised as a strict Catholic and it was not until I was in my late-20s that I began to study the teachings and wisdom found in other religions and faiths. I thought that was important for Thaddeus’s quest—that he find answers outside of his own narrow upbringing, from a source (chipmunks) he hadn’t considered as being on the same social or spiritual level.
What message(s) would you like readers to take away from the book?
The key message is that we’re all here for a purpose—and our first and primary goal in life is to uncover that purpose. We need to take small steps each day toward that end and it’s a journey that never ends. Our learning is never complete. As Thaddeus discovers at the end of the book, he’s got to stop observing and take action. When we are stagnant we do not learn, but when we expose ourselves to other ideas and philosophies, growth happens.
Can you explain further how to separate the voice of our ego vs. inner wisdom as Thaddeus Squirrel learns?
In the book, I talk of the ego as the big obstacle we must get around by any means necessary. The ego is often our public self, the face we show to the world. It often over-thinks, is ruled by emotional swings and places too much importance on the trivial. But ultimately, the ego is shallow. Deep within us is “the watcher,” our true self, and it is this inner part of our being where true wisdom resides—if we choose to open ourselves up to it.
What is the “Law of Connections” that Thaddeus Squirrel is taught?
It’s an idea I’ve had for many years and it relates to how I personally view God. I don’t see God as a being in the traditional sense, but as more of a force-of-nature that turns the gears of life, putting us in the places we need to be, helping us meet the people we’re supposed to meet. The Law is the mechanism that helps us make these connections to people and places, that puts us where we need to be. It’s the force behind coincidences and connects us with our destiny in this life.
How does your main character realize his “true self” and reach his “full potential?”
Honestly, by the end of the book, he has not realized his true self or full potential. The first step for Thaddeus is to get moving, to get him on the path to fulfilling his purpose. He has started on that path, but it’s really a first step. As you know having read the book, Becca, it’s a set-up for a sequel. The spiritual education of Thaddeus Squirrel has just begun.
Thaddeus Squirrel: A Spiritual Fable is available now at Amazon.com. Tom Rapsas is a writer at the faith site Patheos where he has written the Wake Up Call column since 2013. He is also the author of the book Life Tweets, Inspirational & Spiritual Insights That Can Change Your Life.