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Archive for July, 2019

Watching a ’60 Minutes’ repeat of wildlife photographer Tom Mangelson left me speechless, similar to how the film ‘The Last Lions’ did. I’ve seen this episode before, and seeing it again had me deeply wondering about my life and if I’ve dedicated enough action to those that I most admire and adore—wild and domesticated animals. Years ago, I asked the animals as a collective how I might help them. They responded by saying they didn’t need help, so much as they simply needed to be able to live their lives. In that way, perhaps I could help them by guiding humans to allow animals to do that. I’ve tried since, and yet I’d like to do more. Watching Tom, the photographer, inspired me. We will see how that inspiration plays out.
 
A couple weeks prior, I went to Healing Pines Mustang Sanctuary in Corinth. I was there to see a Navajo Horse Blessing Ceremony the day before one was taking place at our barn. I rushed my time with my own horse, Tom, to get there for the beginning of the ceremony. Upon arrival, I learned that things were running 2 hours behind schedule. What started as a disappointment, turned into an opportunity to meet a new herd of horses. As we approached a group of 8, 3 were close to the gate and 5 about 20 feet beyond. I said hello to the first group, all lovely. Then one of the horses from the further group caught my attention, as he looked at me with curiosity. I walked towards him, eager to meet a horse that introduces itself. While he was interested, there was also a bit of hesitation seen in his expression. So, I stopped approaching. With me standing still, he eventually came over on his own to investigate. He decided he liked me and began showing a sense of humor. With him comfortable, two others also came over and I had peaceful and rich moments with each of them. This was not an entirely unusual experience for me, as I strive to connect with animals on their own terms often. Yet, because each horse is different than any other, every experience is new. One of the first books I remember loving was called ‘Happy Horsemanship’. My grandparents gave it to me about 40+ years ago. I’ve been studying how to be with horses ever since. In this moment, however, I was not consciously aware of using any method or technique, I simply engaged in the moment with love and admiration. It was bliss. I learned new horses and felt seen and blessed by them in return—not because of conditions that they do as I said or me doing everything right. It was simple and true. While sharing time with these horses, the others were not interested and I let them be. When allowing for freedom with animals, you may not get the connection you desire. Each animal has their own free will and preferences; let us give them the honor of choice. May we also listen and allow animals to show us how to hear beyond words, connect without conditions and be true to the moment as it is.
 
This morning on a run, I came across a baby snake. I love snakes and didn’t want this one to be among those who’s life ends as roadkill. So, I stood in front of it hoping to shoo it out of the road. It continued to lay there, unafraid of my tallness and its tongue came out to “taste/smell” the environment—probably to identify the large shadow overhead. In that moment, I recognized the difference in our perspectives. What would it be like to experience life from the ground and tasting the air rather than observing it through sight? Then, as happens most every day, I thought about how little we humans understand. After showing me that I know nothing about sensing the world, the snake moved away and out of the road, hopefully to live a long and prosperous life.
 
I’m telling you these three somewhat unrelated stories in hopes of fulfilling the animal’s request for my help human’s perceive them differently. One of the many reasons for my adoration of animals is that they do not intellectualize themselves away from their nature. Even my dog Z, who would have no idea where to sleep if not on her own love seat, still maintains the very things that make her canine—sniffing the ground to know what happened during the night, chasing potential prey and guarding her territory. Meanwhile, our first human ancestors lived similar to certain animals—in tribes and hunting food. Yet, in modern mainstream America we have little sense of such a lifestyle. One might say we evolved, another way of seeing it is we’ve separated ourselves from the natural flow of Life. Both perhaps are true. Is it time to bridge the two? The comfort of both Z and Tom is one of my forethoughts every day. So, it is hard to understand the numbers online for unwanted pets. I won’t bore you with the details, just know it’s a lot of dogs, cats and horses. Meanwhile, in contrast the earth has lost half of its wildlife over the last 40 years, lion populations included. That’s a statistic I can barely comprehend and makes me angry and sad simultaneously. From an archetypal perspective, this discrepancy between the overpopulation of domesticated animals and the decline of wild populations can be seen within the human species as well; our domestication is in surplus, while our wild—the ancient part that knows its self to be simply one facet of the natural world—is on the decline. It is my assertion that this fact is the cause of many modern problems; addictions, depression and a variety of illnesses. It is time to reclaim our nature and integrate it with civilization. This will be the new modern. If doing it for the animals is not motivation enough for you, the Earth also will thrive from this shift. Additionally, humans will benefit connecting back to their own nature—personal and environmental. It’s worth trying anyway. Will you come along with me?
 
PS. photo is my own from time in Zimbabwe.
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