24/06/2010

Why do things die, mama?

“Why do things die, mama?”

My child and I had walked and talked for about ten minutes after finding a young fox dead on the roadside before she asked this question.

We were on a nature walk, an “adventure” and I gasped when I saw it lying there, all soft chestnut fire glory against hard grey tarmac and sharp curb.

So extraordinarily beautiful. So young, only just an adult, smooth, soft, mange-free fur and white teeth, brand new. Still warm, but dead.

Cars whizzed past, fast. I picked the fox up, its head flopped and I cradled it, blood dripping a little from its mouth.

I carried it and laid it reverently in some bough-heavy bushes, curled it around nose-to-tail as though it was sleeping, closed its eyes.

My daughter wanted to touch it too. I was proud of her. We stroked it. Her emphasis was on its wild eyes. Mine was on its youth and splendor.

We talked about it being an instant, painless death, that looking at the road, the driver couldn’t have stopped in time. We noticed the globy blood splatters. My girl asked would the fox’s parents be looking for it?

I began to cry, just a little. I was thinking of the utter, desolate waste. The youth and vitality, the care the fox’s parents would have taken to protect, feed and teach this little one through cold Spring and wet days and nights of scarce pickings. And now too quick across the road and gone.

My quiet tears as we walked were not just for this young, healthy, fit fox. They were for my own death kisses: my dogs, my cats, my mother, my self, my best friends, a boy I found dead in his car, who had fed a hose from his exhaust pipe in a lonely place . Suicides, bizarre accidents, fatal medical mistakes.

I don’t mind at all that my child sees my tiny tears or feels my sadness. I think of other children who are not given opportunities to see and feel raw, wild life and learn about death gently at first through the natural world. Who do not go on nature walks. Death on a nature walk, what could be more natural?

We have ten minutes of discussing the fox, sudden death and the consequences for everyone involved, my child asking me all kinds of questions.

And then she asks me, as she has asked me several times before, “why do things die, mama?” And I say, without hesitation, “because without death there is no life”.

I use my quaint, simplistic theory of opposites to explain things a lot. Without darkness light doesn’t exist. And yet, when we happen upon death suddenly and unexpectedly as grown-ups we are thrown out of our complacency. Children accept.

I feel odd writing about our young fox – and this is a documented syndrome you know, that when you happen upon a dead body you feel a primal sense of needing to protect it, an askew sense of it being your responsibility – I think of him still curled up and getting wet in the rain, I wonder should I have carried him all the way home and buried him here though that didn’t feel at all right at the time. I feel a little dishonorable documenting our experience in a blog post.

All of this is perhaps less about the natural, wild fox still in his natural element in the bushes and more about the wondering over death his has stirred up in me.

Yet, I want to say that I am glad we came upon the fox when we did, that it was us and not some other, stray dogs even.

I am grateful that the fox in his death gave several gifts to my child: a chance to touch wild, to stare at stillness, to learn about death in all of its complexity, to honor the found dead, respect and revere them – and more, that crossing roads is a dangerous thing, impulse must sometimes be tempered, consequences of decisions can be catastrophic …

I see her beautiful mind absorbing all of this. And she does not cry. As with so many other things, she understands it all far better than I.

Image “An Angel in the Woods” borrowed from artist Karen Davis. Check out her Etsy shop,  Moonlight and Hares + follow her on Twitter @moonhare Thank you Karen for making our world more beautiful.

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29/05/2010

Hello authentic life

Yesterday I talked a little about how we could all be more ourselves – the individuals we are – and feel more empowered instead of running around like Loraxes.

But how exactly to do that? How do you live your authentic life?

First of all, you are an individual. It follows that your life ought to be one based on your individuality. You are not just a person in the system, a potential customer, a consumer or one of the target market. Yet so many of us are unwittingly brainwashed and just bob along with the waves of patterns of behaviour that move around the ocean of our populace.

It seems to me that while most people understand we have free choice – and so many less fortunate people in the world do not have this essential foundation of a free society – they don’t use their free choice. (However, there are anomalies in our society, for example, parents-to-be in New York have no choice about whether to have their baby at home or not.)

Free will and free choice means we have the luxury of being more conscious of the tiny as well as big choices we make every day.

Each choice has a consequence. When we choose carefully and thoughtfully, when we ask ourselves what we want to do instead of just automatically doing what we think society wants us to do, we instantly empower ourselves.

The more we listen to our inner Self, and act on our intuition, the stronger we feel, and co-incidentally happier. The more we consciously strip away unnecessary things by de-cluttering, creating breathing space in our lives, being more mindful, honoring the things that make us feel good and doing more of them, the more authentic our lives will be. Our lives reflect who we are.

So in the hope of inspiring you, I gave myself 15 minutes to write a little stream-of-consciousness list of my ways of authentic living – practical choices I’ve made and continue to make that have helped me strip away layers of accidental falsity and live a more fulfilling life.

Hello authentic living –

Hello handmade, nature, wilderness and conscious living. Hello make-do-and-mend and minimalism. Hello connecting with my community and guerrilla gardening. Hello buying local produce and seasonal food.

Hello stripping away unnecessary things, including people and ideologies. Hello looking at bees and butterflies instead of watching them on TV. Hello letting children feel free and safe and able to play without adult supervision and interference.

Hello walking instead of driving. Hello knowing more about my family and friends than I do about celebrities and TV characters. Hello Waldorf / Steiner education and toys made of things that once lived like wool and wood. Hello not window-shopping and buying into retail persuasion.

Hello wearing the same dress I wore ten years ago because I love it (fashion doyen, Vivienne Westwood would approve). Hello making your own clothes, buying vintage clothes, revamping your old clothes, buying clothes from charity shops and expressing your individuality through the clothes you wear.

Hello being indecisive so you are always open to something new happening. Hello being spontaneous and going with that whole “who moved the cheese” thing.

Hello learning to be storytellers again instead of always reading books. Hello buying online direct from artists and creators on Etsy instead of big brand manufacturers. Hello upcycling and finding new uses for things we might otherwise throw away. Hello guitars around campfires, sleeping  under the stars and taking courses like Guy Mallinson’s woodland camps.

Hello farmers markets and people raising animals and crops the old-fashioned, expensive way. Hello curative classical homoeopathy and the slow movement. Hello creating communities of like-minded people online so it’s like we all live together in a village. (I’d like WildelyCreative as a neighbour.)

Hello supporting the people working with white knuckles, gritted teeth and in tears to save our planet, the species we share it with and the welfare of animals. Hello the rebel, the maverick, the weirdo who stands up and is not afraid to go against the tide.

Hello having your baby at home, being supported by other parents and breastfeeding for as long as you want. Hello hand-me-down clothes that have the energy of other children about them. Hello dads being good at supporting and protecting their family and moms being good at nurturing and home-making and hello all parents feeling supported and confident instead of thinking they need to read parenting books <– although I recommend that one).

Hello feeling connected to people via the magnificent universe that is Twitter that you’d never meet in real life. Hello listening to our instincts and acting upon them so we get more gut instincts and start to rely on them instead. Hello thinking for yourself instead of what everyone else seems to think.

Hello doing the exact things we loved as children, not matter how childish like playing with modelling clay and crayons, making things from twigs and collecting feathers. Hello not feeling you have to see the latest movie. Hello walking barefoot and getting your hands dirty.

Hello attempting to fix something instead of just buying a replacement. Hello getting to know your neighbours even if you don’t like them. Hello having a cat or dog in your life to teach you important life lessons and bring you companionship, fun, love and joy.

Hello photographing wildlife instead of shooting it. Hello going on guided nature walks instead of shopping trips. Hello home baking, making meals from scratch and growing our own wild foods.

Hello taking things out of skips and picking up things off the street that people have put out as garbage (we got 4 rolls of thick cream wallpaper on the street yesterday, great for HUGE painting and pastel works of art).

Hello looking up old friends and just saying hello. Hello realising you are beautiful. Hello loving what you have and being grateful.

Hello more displays of public affection. Hello more adventurous sex. (Bye bye stupid inhibitions.) Hello sharing secrets and talking more about what you feel. Hello writing silly notes and saying thank you.

Hello finding out about the insects and other little beasties you share you home and street with and looking for them and being able to name them. Hello smiling at people and acknowledging people more.

Hello realizing how far you’ve come and helping those coming up behind you. Hello leaving whole days open and unscheduled to do what you like in the moment. Hello risking looking foolish when you ask a stranger if they need help with their bags, car, crossing the road or anything else. Hello getting better about saying ‘no’ without giving an explanation as to why not.

Hello having wildflower meadows and wilderness areas in our gardens. Hello making gifts and cards for friends and family instead of giving money to a shop. Hello more people doing things like moving your tomato plant so the noise won’t disturb a leafcutter bee’s nest.

Hello healing ourselves by listening to our inner wild.

I’d love it if we did a kind of brainstorming thing here and you added your individual ‘Hello‘s in the comments below. I might add a few more too.

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