South African Adventure #6 – Wildlife Challenge of the Day

Here I am on my soapbox, about to pontificate and verbally gesticulate about all the reasons why I think we need to conserve, rehabilitate, and otherwise appreciate the beauty around us. But I won’t. Not really. I’ll just twist your arm gently.

My original title for this post was “Why Wildlife Makes Me Happy, and Why I Believe We Need to Cherish and Protect It.” I still think that is an apt name for the post, but what I’d prefer you to think of this post as is a challenge, a game.  t is an opportunity for you to step into my shoes for a few minutes and live like I do. You may run screaming at the thought of that, and I would understand. To some extent, at least. But what I’m proposing is something that I believe everyone should do everywhere in the world, no matter who you are. And it takes nothing but a few minutes of your time. So hear me out.

I swear if anyone took a moment to sit and watch a troop of baboons playing in a field, they could not help but to smile. Maybe not smile when the baboons jump on the car and eat the aerial or poop on your roof (which has happened to me on more than one occasion), but you still have to chuckle at their audacity, and their exploits as they toss each other around and genuinely enjoy life, even when they are getting beaten up by their more senior family members. Kind of like a human family, in fact, where the older brothers and sisters tease the younger ones incessantly and then go screaming off to whoever will listen as soon as the little one wises up and starts fighting back. In fact, baboons are uncannily like us. I’ll be honest – I kind of wish one would saunter up to me and start picking through my hair in an attempt to groom me.

I smile every time I see an animal, even the more mundane ones we take for granted, like squirrels and pigeons. Sit and watch them for a few moments before automatically judging them. Take a few minutes to observe without judging. The more you do this with wildlife, the more you will find yourself doing it with human life, and the more patience and compassion you will find you possess. It all starts with our ability to see things clearly, and not through the filters we’ve put in place through experience. The more often you allow yourself to see things without pretense, without judgment, the more often you will find yourself in a better mood. Better mood = happier people overall. I don’t know about you, but for me,  happiness is just about as good as it gets in my book.

So cherish wildlife. Appreciate it, take a moment for it, actually stop and smell those roses. No matter how busy you say you are, you always have time for it. I know. I lived and worked in New York, one of the most high-intensity places in the world, and I worked in media. If you don’t think I know a thing or two about being highly stressed, overworked, underpaid, and strung out, you are sadly mistaken. But I chose to make a change, one baby step at a time. And I always always always took a few seconds wherever I could to step back and bring the whole world into focus, stripping off the tunnel vision blinders I had been trained to use by a society so out of touch with ‘reality’ as to believe that we don’t need the outside world.  We do, and it needs us.  Just in the right balance.

So here’s my challenge for you – I challenge you to take five minutes today to sit quietly and watch a bird, a squirrel, an ant, whatever wildlife you can find. Watch, listen and don’t say a word, mentally or literally. If you do decide to try it, please, please share your experience with me.

 

All rights reserved. ©2012 Jennifer Vitanzo

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Categories: Africa, Animal, Bush, Conservation, South Africa, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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6 thoughts on “South African Adventure #6 – Wildlife Challenge of the Day

  1. On Sunday at UCLA–remember all the fun we had there?–I saw a squirrel divebomb into a trash can, and when I got even with it he popped out like a jack in the box and surprised me enough to make me take a step back. I swear he was grinning. . .

  2. wonderful post, Gen. does sitting on the floor for at least 5 minutes with my two cats, focusing on only them and playing with them count? how about the four, sweet but dead birds i buried this past week? (they’d flown into glass windows!! strange, but it happens a lot this time of year in my neighborhood. makes me so sad.) i did save one: picked it up stunned off the sidewalk, warmed it up for 5 minutes, took it over to a grassy field and let the sun warm it up. then he hopped sideways, turned upside down, turned right side up, and flew away! i wish i could sit and watch a family of baboons. lucky you. xox

    • Of course the cats count, Beth 🙂 We had a woodpecker that did that a while back. It was so bizarre – he just kept flying into our glass door one night. We’d pick him up, he’d shake it off and fly away, and then ‘bonk!’ Back hitting the door again. Eventually he flew away, slightly off-kilter, and didn’t come back. Ah, you’d love the baboons. They are incredibly intelligent and hilarious to watch!! Someday you must come visit.

      • beth wimmer

        thanks for the feedback. 🙂 i would LOVE to come and visit. you plan to be there for years to come??
        xox
        beth

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