Animal Wisdom Teaches Humility and Surrender

What has 2019 taught me?

From everything that has happened in 2019, the wisdom of animals has impressed and inspired me the most.

Personal grief gives way to national trauma

This year I lost a friend, a dear uncle and my father, my job and my house – these were big events that all happened in the middle of the year. As big as they were half a year ago, they have given way to huge events in nature that have traumatic impact on people and animals: bush fires.

The smoke in the air I breathe; the lack of fresh air makes me panic inside. I manage to stay calm on the outside, but the discrepancy is taking its toll. Sleepless, fearful nights – my instinct wants to take me out of here and flee to another part of the world where it is cold; where the air is humid and fresh.

Resistance exhausts

I realise that I’m resisting the situation. I am constantly wanting to change it. I have great difficulty accepting it as it is. I struggle with the fact that I have no control whatsoever over the direction of the wind, or the rain, or the fires themselves. My resistance is exhausting me. I wish I could surrender to What Is.

Arrogance misleads

We people tend to believe we can control everything. If we can’t, we panic. Personally, I was forced to stop believing I could control everything a long time ago, but I would still prefer it if I could control circumstances. I do like surprises, but only the pleasant ones.

It’s arrogant to believe we have control. Why would we be superior to nature? We’re not. At times like these we are confronted with this fact. It is a humbling experience.

Animal wisdom inspires

I look to nature itself; to the animals for inspiration.

During the day I hear birds sing. At night the possums are having a ball on the roof. They seem to have accepted the weather conditions. They may be hungry and no doubt are they thirsty but they go about their day like they always do. I’m neither hungry nor thirsty, and yet I complain?! I struggle with some discomfort?! What do they do that I don’t?

What I’ve learnt this year comes from a wallaby I found hanging up side down from my garden fence one morning. It must have hung there the whole night. It had gotten its hind leg caught between the timber. The leg was broken. The wallaby hadn’t been able to free itself. My neighbour had come to lift the wallaby from the fence. He had laid the wallaby in the garden. The wallaby had had no strength left to fight or flee. Had it had any, it could have gone nowhere with its hind leg broken. It couldn’t walk. All it could do was lie there and wait.

As I was waiting for the ranger to come, I watched the wallaby’s face. It took an hour. It was the longest hour. The face of the wallaby was very beautiful. There wasn’t a trace of anger, sadness, reproach or despair in its eyes. There was total surrender and acceptance.

Absence of judgement

The wallaby had tried to free itself for many hours while I was fast asleep. It had suffered greatly. It still suffered. But the one thing I observed that morning that got me thinking, was that the wallaby didn’t judge. It seemed to me that it had no conscious sense of the difference between right and wrong. It had an instinctive awareness of good and bad for its survival and it must have known that it wasn’t in a good position with its leg broken. But there was no judgement. No self pity. No comparison. No sense of entitlement. No expectation regarding happiness and health. No sense of unfinished business or unfulfilled dreams.

Humility and surrender

The dry heat in Australia, allowing for raging bush fires causing devastation for many, discomfort for most, and extinction of some animal species, teaches me a lesson in humility and surrender.

What animals do that I don’t, is Being – nonjudgemental Being. I, on the other hand, judge, constantly. I have a head full of opinion and judgement. My mind is constantly assessing what happens – a non-stop and arrogant stream of chatter and noise. ‘The skies are hazy again, it shouldn’t be that way’, ‘How stupid that the army is not mobilised to help fight the fires’, ‘The volunteers should be paid for keeping us safe at their own risk’, ‘In The Netherlands it’s nice and cold, better go there’, ‘I can’t breathe in this heat, it’s ridiculous’, ‘I can’t even open a window, it’s terrible’, etc, etc, etc.

It is my arrogant judgement that gets in the way of humble surrender.

If I weren’t as opinionated as I am, I might be less fearful. I might be relaxed and actually enjoying my summer holidays.

New Year’s resolution

It is with prickly eyes and a sore throat that I make this resolution for 2020: I surrender to -, and accept that which I can’t change. I accept how it makes me feel. I let go of wanting to control, change, resist or fix that which is beyond my control. I also don’t talk about it. Like animals, I surrender to What Is in silence (no need to explain anything to -, or convince others). I go about my day like I always do.


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