Eyes of the Wild
Anti-Anxiety Tool of the Week: Easy does it, 50 times
Worrying gives me a (false) sense that I can control things but it doesn't actually do anything--except stress me out and "borrow sorrow from tomorrow" as the old saying goes. But sometimes it feels impossible to shake it off. My brain stays stuck in a very negative loop no matter what I do.
During a rather dark period in my life, a wise woman suggested that I choose a short supportive phrase, like “one day at a time” and repeat it over and over, like a mantra. "Say it 50 or even 100 times if you need to!" She told me it could help re-set my brain and get me out of that gargoylian, broken-record state of anxiety. It seemed a little extreme, but I was desperate so I gave it a try, feeling foolish and therefore kind of resentful, even while doing it silently. But she was right--it worked! You could also try "easy does it" or "let go and let God" or some other phrase you find helpful.
This tool is from the second Toolkit. Here's the Index of all toolkits. And The Mini-Toolkit: For Those with Little or No Time.
Eyes of the Wild
Most weeks on this blog I write about whatever has most captured my heart and soul over the previous few days. This week it was a pair of eyes.
Looking for something to read a few evenings ago, I pulled out an issue of National Geographic from 2016 that focused on what is known as the "Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem," which includes Yellowstone National Park.
We scooped up that issue at a yard sale a couple of years ago because we had spent several days at Yellowstone in August of 2017. That was just after we experienced the total solar eclipse from a hilltop in rural Idaho with forty people who, like us, were awestruck. Talk about back-to-back wonders.
An important aside: If there is any way that you can view the total solar eclipse (TSE) that will traverse the United States on April 8, 2024, by all means do it! It is a unique and utterly remarkable phenomenon--infinitely more amazing than a partial eclipse. The next TSE that will be visible in the continental US won't be until 2044 and that will only be in Montana and North Dakota. Here's one article about what it's like to see a TSE, and another, if you need convincing.
In any case I picked up that Yellowstone issue and began to read. The whole thing was fascinating but as I turned the page what really caught my attention was a photo of a wolf (3rd row, right side). Especially the eyes. Intense. Deep. Totally present. Totally alive.
Doug Smith, biologist and head of the Yellowstone Wolf Project, took that issue's author and longtime Yellowstone area resident, David Quammen, out to see some of the wolves in Yellowstone.
"Look at those eyes," said Smith. They were wide open, blazing a coppery brown. "That's wild," he said. "This is what our world is trying to do away with. Right here, that look. We want to keep that look."
Human interaction with wild animals is an immensely complex topic. I don't claim to be an expert in any arenas relevant to that heated discussion--anthropology, biology, climatology, conservation, culture, ecology, economics, ethics, infectious disease, myth, politics or any others. Except, perhaps, the arena of my own heart and soul and my response there to these creatures.
Nor do I have a direct stake in the debate as do Native Americans, ranchers and farmers, policy makers, hunters, and government land and wildlife managers.
I have never lived anywhere near the territories of the larger carnivores and omnivores such as cougars, wolves and grizzly bears, nor around any of the larger prey animals such as elk, moose and caribou.
I have, however lived in the same vicinity with black bears, foxes, white tailed deer, rabbits, raccoons, squirrels, mice and chipmunks. And adored, and argued with, them all.
And I do know there are no simplistic answers.
I also know that we need these creatures--that on some deeply spiritual, unvoiceable level they are our kin. And that we ignore, disrespect, try to pretend they are not wild, or use or abuse them at our peril.
We are such arrogant beings, we humans. Too sure of ourselves, too ready to take all that presents itself to us, too convinced we know what's best for everybody and everything. At least most of us are. Can we find a way to live with our wild sisters and brothers? We need them. And they need us to respect and honor their unique legacy. If we try to get too close to them, or even worse, live too close to them, we will likely ruin what we are seeking.
Southern writer Bailey White, usually a humorist, tells the story of driving along a rural Georgia road, seeing what she thought was a buzzard ahead eating roadkill. As her car got closer and closer, it still did not move.
The buzzard turned his head and looked at me. He stood up on his big yellow legs. His head was snow white. His eyes were gold. He was not a buzzard. He was a bald eagle.
Then, not until after I had brought the car to a full stop, he spread his wings and with a slow swoop, lifted himself into the air. He turned his head and gave me a long look through the car windshield with his level yellow eyes. Then he slowly wheeled up into the sky until he was just a black dot against the blue.
I turned the car off. I thought about that glare he had given me. What are you doing here? it had said. When I got started again I drove slower and felt smaller. I think it does us all good to get looked at like that now and then by a wild animal.
Mama Makes Up Her Mind and Other Dangers of Southern Living
Until next time,
Flower and hands, Esther Marie Doysabas, unSplash
Single wolf, Andrew Ly, unSplash
Two wolves, Yannick Menard, unSplash
Bald eagle, Peter K. Burian, Wikipedia