If the last year has taught us anything, it
has probably offered us the chance to take a step away from the constantly
grinding treadmill of life which had become so familiar; and raised our
awareness and appreciation of the treasures to which we had become blind. Our
observational skills have become more acute, we take time to watch the nuanced
changes in nature and attach meaning to our limited opportunities for social
interactions. When I was walking with the dogs on Exmoor a few days ago, I
paused to listen to a skylark as he spiralled higher and higher until his voice
was faint as he disappeared into cloud. His efforts lasted several minutes,
then his song became more distinct as he dropped towards the ground. A little
further along, a kestrel flew up from the heather and circled on the air
currents which lifted her without effort. As she glided, her wings
outstretched, she found a stream of air which lifted her higher, then hovering,
she scanned the ground for prey. Several times she repeated her task until I
saw her plummet, stop, and then drop down to the ground. Whether she was
successful in her hunt I don’t know, but she reminded me to take time to pause
and simple be a part of what is around us; our senses heightened to the sound
and feel of the warmth in the breeze, the rustle of small creatures hidden
beneath the grass we walk on, the interrelationships of all around us. We are
not distinct from these happenings, we are a part of this world however
transient it may feel to us at times.
There are moments when we simply feel a change, we may not even see it with our eyes but we sense it. Sitting on a hanging log over a stream yesterday, I closed my eyes, cleared my mind and allowed my thoughts to gently drift. I focussed on the dogs and felt a magnetic pull towards them, then I sensed another being, opening my eyes to see a wagtail on the stones in the shallow water. We all have the capacity for more nuanced awareness, once we step away from the inane protection of business and noise, and absorb the quiet space that remains. The space that is ourself, uncluttered by our belief systems and coping mechanisms. The space that enables growth, understanding, compassion.
means beautiful in Hindi, strong in Native American, friend in Arabic and
flower in Greek.
My role is to support her, to create the best environment I am able in order for her to heal. That includes keeping my presence to a minimum and respecting her agency, her decisions. This stepping away isn’t failure, it isn’t personal or negative. It stems from regard for Nina’s intrinsic personhood and needs; and removing human centred expectations of how we believe another nonhuman animal ‘should’ feel and behave. In time it may be that I can help her by offering guidance so that she is more able to adjust with confidence, but that time is in the future. Letting a relationship evolve takes courage; ignoring the voices in our head that say we should be doing this or they aught to be doing that. When we observe or even simply feel the smallest changes which inform us of the shift in another’s thinking, those are the moments which tell us we are to trust ourselves, to trust our intuition and to wait some more. This paradigm moves beyond the relationship with a scared rescue dog; regard for the intrinsic values and agency of others takes away many of our own self-imposed pressures and invites a more open arena for dialogue.