Share the space

The ability to share space with other living things creates harmony.

I often share my space with this cat.

I often share my space with this cat.

It rains outside.  A wet cat lands upon a chair, meowing to me.  I move to the edge of my seat, and pull the curtains back at the window.  I invite the waiting cat to sit with me.  As I type this post, there is a cat on my seat beside me, purring and looking out of the window upon her domain.  I am sharing the space.

The council of my town of Colchester is building hundreds of miles of cycle paths.  Near many of these cycle paths is a sign: “share the space.”  Pedestrian and cyclist now share these paths, mindful to respect the other in using this shared space.  Around Britain duck lanes now exist, a reminder to cyclists and pedestrians that they share the space with river birds beside the rivers and canals.

Sustainability is about acting in harmony with nature, which is possible if people share their space with other living things.

Challenges and choices in nature

Interactions with nature is a play of challenges and choices.

This squirrel presents me with the latest challenge in nature: burying food in my oak sapling pots.

This squirrel presents me with the latest challenge in nature: burying food in my oak sapling pots.

My good friend Paul of Learning for Dogs reblogs a post about my oak saplings;  whilst reading that post, I catch sight of the local squirrel outside the window heading for my oak saplings to bury its nuts in the pots.

The squirrel is the latest challenge from nature, one that raises fear in me that my oak saplings will suffer harm from the squirrel’s activities.  I have stopped feeding the wild animals, because food is now abundant in these warm days, the last of the food, including nuts, I offer to the wild animals so it is not wasted.  The squirrel is using the food offered to it, burying the food in my oak sapling pots.

My initial choice is to recycle the nuts into the food waste, but the landlord of the property prevents me as they need to clean out the food waste bin.  I make the choice to wait, do nothing, let things flow for the moment.

The cat sees me at the window and meows. Another challenge. An invite to come into the garden with her. Another choice.

Things prosper when cared for

The joy of caring for something.

These oak saplings prosper because the are cared for.

These oak saplings prosper because of care.

Today, I moved my eight oak saplings into the full sun, added a new layer of quality compost to their pots, and watered them.  In their second year of life these oak saplings prosper because of care.

Caring for something means one must pay attention to the small details.  For instance, I remove the caterpillars from the oak leaves, and the weeds that grow in the pots.  If I did not concentrate on the small details, the little problems could grow into larger problems, the caterpillars destroying the oak saplings, the weeds stealing their nutrients in the pots.

Also, the individual spends time on the thing cared about, establishing regular activities, such as in my case, watering the oak saplings every few days.  The individual looks for ways that the cared for thing might benefit, just as I moved my oak saplings into the full sun, added new compost to them, and infected them with a type of symbiotic fungus that aids oak sapling growth.

The thing cared for becomes special, for instance there are millions of oak trees in Britain, but only eight of those, my saplings, are special to me.  In such a caring relationship, both sides come to depend upon the other.  My oak saplings need my care and attention to survive, I need my oak saplings to feel good about myself when life is hard.

If the individual has nothing to care for, their life becomes empty and meaningless.  I love the book by Antoine De Saint-Exupery called The Little Prince, which explores ideas around friendship and caring for things.  In The Little Prince is the following beautiful quote:

“You are beautiful, but you are empty. One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passerby would think that my rose looked just like you — the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses: because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is she that I have sheltered behind the screen; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillars; because it is she that I have listened to, when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose.”

Being of benefit to others

You attract others by offering a benefit to them.

Offer something of benefit, and others will come to you.

Offer something of benefit, and others will come to you.

The winter and nesting season moves into the abundant season of plenty, thus I can stop feeding the wild birds.  I distribute the last of the food to the wild birds, the remainder of the nuts for the local squirrel.  Dozens of squabbling birds descend upon the food, and it is quickly gone.  I frighten the squirrel, which already has its paws on the nuts.  My cat love bombs me, so I feed her too.

All these animals are around me for a reason, I benefit them.  It is a simple lesson, that if you offer something of benefit to others, they will come to you.

Giving animals a hand

Everyone can make an individual difference to animals.

Simple actions can make a difference for a wild animal.

Individuals have a positive impact on a few wild animals with simple actions.

Life often surprises with weird coincidence.  Even though I try to keep intervention in the lives of wildlife to a minimum, the beautiful little green beetle was trying to cross a busy path, its potential doom a crushing death under a human foot.

I watched as one pedestrian walked by oblivious of the beetle they nearly stood on; I decided to intervene.  I by chance had a Colchester Zoo leaflet which had the strap line “giving animals a hand!”  which I used to move the beetle to safety in the vegetation it was heading for.  I smiled at the interesting synchronicity of helping the beetle with a leaflet talking about helping animals.

The challenges of the world might be vast and impossible to overcome, but every individual can have a positive impact in their actions for a few wild animals.

An appeal to common sense

If it looks like a bad idea, it probably is a bad idea.

In my opinion a baby prefers security rather than being subject to unnecessary risk due to lack of common sense.

In my opinion a baby prefers security rather than being subject to unnecessary risk due to lack of common sense.

The UK media are getting hysterical at the moment over a new fashion called baby yoga, specifically about a video on Facebook.  Videos are appearing on social media such as YouTube that show babies, including newborns, being twisted and thrown in the air, which many observers consider dangerous.

Rather than be carried away by emotional hysteria and mass opinion, I watched one of the videos of baby yoga objectively, and using my common sense, I could see that baby yoga is a dangerous activity to subject a baby to.

Firstly, as a naturally clumsy person, I could never trust myself holding a baby, let alone throw it around in the air.  Common sense tells me that accidents can easily happen in baby yoga such as losing grip or dropping the baby.

Secondly, the people in the videos doing baby yoga are probably experts, and most people who might copy the experts are amateurs who would do harm to their baby if they tried this activity.

Thirdly, a baby swung around like in the baby yoga videos is subject to major forces on its vulnerable body, predictably risking serious injury or death.

Fourthly, the babies in the few videos I have seen did not appear to enjoy the experience.  There are alternative yoga exercises with a baby where they appear to enjoy the interaction, and there is low risk of injury.

Common sense is a form of wisdom, if something looks like a bad idea, it probably is.

On being mindful and responsible to living things

As a sustainable individual, acting in harmony with nature.

This impulsive cat seems oblivious to the possibility that I might trip over, step on or shuts doors on her; challenging me to practice mindfulness of her presence at all times.

This impulsive cat seems oblivious to the possibility that I might trip over, step on or shut doors on her; challenging me to practice mindfulness of her presence at all times.

The challenge of my cat, she is impulsive and acts on the viewpoint that I know where she is at all times.  Sadly, the reality is that I don’t, and the unfortunate possibility arises that I might accidentally harm her, such as step on her.

It is dark and raining, my cat is in the kitchen, I am at the front door, closing the door.  The cat suddenly has darted for the closing door; had I closed the door with any force, I would have killed my cat. Outside, the rain has brought out the snails and frogs.  I am fortunately mindful of where I am placing my feet, the frog survives, but the less easily seen snail dies, another accidental death by crushing of my feet.  In the dark, the cat lets out a little anxious meow as I kick her.  This is all a reminder of practicing mindfulness, the difference between life and death of the living things around me.

Yesterday I was camping.  A spider was crawling across my sleeping bag.  I attempted to evict the spider from my tent, but in the process discovered and caused the spider to lose a ball of eggs it was holding.  It is so easy to dismiss the spider and its loss of its eggs as insignificant, but to the spider, the loss of its young means everything.  I see the spider outside the tent silent and motionless, predictably the main item on its mind in that moment, the loss of its young.  I see the white ball.  I pick up and place the ball next to the spider, which immediately moves over the ball, gathering it up and running off to safety.

For the few that recognise and work towards action in harmony with nature in their daily lives, mindfulness born of awareness of the living things present  around them, and the responsibility to act in harmony with living things, is a good attitude to follow.