Just beyond my back property line, there is a lake. The lake provides food and water for many animals and affords me many opportunities to see them. You name an animal indigenous to northwest Indiana, and it has wandered into my backyard: fox, coyote, raccoon, skunk, opossum, woodchuck, and deer not to mention four or five dozen kinds of birds.

Last week, a mother and daughter loon landed in the midst of my backyard. Loons are stately black and white birds with pointed black beaks. From my deck, I could watch them as they picked over the cracked corn left by my raccoons the night before. However, in the midst of their munching, they had a heated discussion about something the youngster didn't understand. The mother loon was all over her daughter because of her behavior.

Sitting motionless, I listened intently to the mother who was having great difficulty getting some basic loon learnings through to her daughter. The daughter couldn't quite get the hang of feeding off the bottom of the lake. Apparently, she was always getting water in her beak while diving for fish. The mother told her repeatedly how to dive without getting a head full of water, but the youngster tuned out the mother loon.

Then there was the issue of primping the daughter's feathers after feeding. It seems that the daughter started with her tail then worked her way to her neck. Until then, I hadn't known that there was a right and wrong way to work with loon feathers. There were several other things that the youngster routinely did incorrectly, but you get the picture. The mother wanted her daughter to learn from her past mistakes, something that her daughter found extremely difficult to do.

Finally, the exasperated mother blurted out, "Insanity is doing over and over again something that hadn't worked, hoping that it will work the next time." Startled, the young loon stopped picking at her food and just stood there allowing her mother's comments to resonate around in her head. The mother then added in a not so gentle way, "When people want to refer to another person's crazy behavior, they say, 'You are acting like a loon.'" Then she added, "We already have a bad name among humans. Your behavior doesn't do anything to improve the way they view us."

The daughter's bottom beak dropped, and I could tell that mother had made her point. I felt sorry for the poor kid. She obliviously was shaken by her mother's lecture about repeating the same mistakes. Then the mother went over to the daughter and stroked her neck with her beak to comfort her. After a few reassurances, they flew off to the lake leaving me to think about the mother's lecture about loon life.

I thought about the implications of the mother loon's advice. How often had I repeatedly done something that hadn't worked, hoping that it would work the next time? I could see the mother's point. It was insane for me or for the loon to behave in this counterproductive manner. I resolved that when something in the future didn't work, I would analyze the problem and make appropriate corrections to my approach. If it still didn't work, I will get an objective opinion from another person and use that information to redesign my problem-solving approach. After all, I don't want to have my friends think that I am crazy as a loon.

Before a mother and daughter loon land in your backyard, why not take a look at your life? What are the areas in which you tend to do something repeatedly that hadn't worked-all the while hoping that the result will be different the next time? If it doesn't work after a couple of tries, rethink the procedure, or get advice from a knowledgeable person. It is insane to try continuously to do something that doesn't work.

For example, you may be acting like the loon in a dysfunctional relationship. Do you find yourself continually with the same kind of women with the same kind of problems? Or do all the men you date treat you poorly? In either case, if you continue to hope that things will be different the next time, you may be behaving like a loon. Perhaps, you repeatedly experience the same types of problems at work or at school. If you don't change your approach, you mimic our feathered friend. Whatever your problem, don't continue to act as crazy as a loon.