I truly want my children to learn about the balance of nature, of how each and every single living thing, no matter how big or small, depends on each other to continue living. If every child understood this fully, sincerely, to their core, then they would or could choose to live a life that is in congruence with and respectful of all of nature and the conservation of our earth. For this to happen we all need to be truly exposed to nature at all levels, at all times of the day, in all seasons, and in all weather. We need to learn to live to be in tune with nature, in harmony with it…to listen to the sounds and smells all around. If my children truly experience this can you imagine the more informed and compassionate choices they could make in their lifetime?
In July of this year I spent 4 magical days at Londolozi Game Reserve in South Africa. Here I had the rare and incredible opportunity to observe a mother leopard, early one morning, as she returned to her two 3-week old cubs. We observed her as she walked slowly and calmly down a dusty dirt road back towards her den where she had hidden them away. She did not rush, she did not look at all hurried or concerned. And yet she had left her cubs alone for the night so that she could hunt. And I wondered, is it possible for me to emulate this calm and focus in my own life amidst the busyness of every day in raising children and being a working mother? And what would this take?…to put away my to-do lists and my larger than life sense of responsibility to be more in tune with myself and with nature…and to still provide for my children and family. She walked on, alert for sounds and smells in her environment, clearly heading towards her den. For all she knew her cubs could have been killed in the time that she was gone by any one of a number of predators and yet she very solidly carried on towards her den. This affirmed for me how animals, unlike humans, are so in tune with endings, with loss, and how they accept it as a natural course of nature and life. Perhaps they feel loss and agony but they move on from it in such a different way than most humans. They don’t search for ways to understand it. They accept it and live with it instinctively as the way of nature – of life and of death. As she neared her den she clearly surveyed the area, smelling and looking around, checking for dangers. Still no rushing. Still so solid, grounded, alert and calm. So, so calm. Again, how can I emulate this in some way in my life? She was so focused, so aware of her surroundings. It was beautiful to witness her call to her cubs when she arrived at the outside of her den. She stopped, paused, and then called for them…such a guttural instinctual sound. And in seconds they came bounding out of the den. I couldn’t help but notice how much they resembled the behavior of my own children when I return from some time away.
The lesson I took most from this time in the bush was the reliance that each and every living thing has on one another. And that nothing is more important than something else. No matter if you are a strong and beautiful leopard or a tiny and somewhat ugly termite. To remove anything from such an environment has an impact, at some future time, on the sustainability of every living thing. And so I reflected on how much we humans destroy each and every day…an ant, a tree, a spider, some moss on a tree that we cut down….and the impact that this has. If we could all teach our children this so that this understanding could become embodied – a core part of the very fibre of their way of being in the world – then there would be hope for the future of our earth.