— by Susan Eirich, PhD —
During a test run for our first online Conservation Conversation next week, one of the participants, “Robert,” shared a story that was vivid in his mind. He lives in an apartment in a large city. By his apartment complex of 1000 people lies a neglected vacant lot grown up with weeds. Lying in his bed in the very early morning a few days ago, he heard the passionate singing of a songbird who had moved into the lot. He lay there enjoying it morning after morning. He wondered if it was just singing out of territorial impulses? Or singing simply for joy? A thoughtful man not given to jumping to emotional conclusions, he nevertheless felt, in the end, that it was pure joy.
It was so beautiful. It gave him such pleasure. He began to feel he had developed a relationship with this bird, at least on his part, through the joy it was bringing him. Then two mornings ago an employee came with a mower and cut down the whole field. The next morning the singing had stopped.
Robert felt a huge sense of loss. His immediate reaction was, “What happened to my bird?” His next immediate reaction was concern for the bird. And then sadness that the vacant lot wasn’t being used as a place where people could come together and enjoy themselves; where humans and wildlife could both thrive. It would make such sense…..
There are many avenues to explore in this story. Can the people of that apartment complex come together to make this lot a haven for Life of all kinds, in the midst of a city? How wonderful that a bird came and started to make it its home. Can we make more places for humans and animals in cities and even begin to interweave wildlife habitats within a city? Sort of like the wildlife corridor movement occurring now at larger scales around the world. One little bird brought at least one man such pleasure. On what basis do we deprive ourselves of that pleasure? Or is it on no basis at all; just not thinking. Accepting things way they are. Accepting a life without nature; without realizing what richness we are losing in our lives. Allowing ourselves to be distracted by the pressures of daily living and being stressed, when this is the very thing that can de-stress us. And what of the idea that humans and wildlife can potentially coexist in mutually enhanced lives, anywhere? A “new way of living together on this earth?”
There is yet another thread in this story. My response was that there was indeed a relationship between Robert and this little songbird. That there was an arc of energy created between he and the bird based on his appreciation of its song. A relationship. A connection made as the song reached his ears and brain and he responded with appreciation. I have seen that arc of energy created here between us and the wild ones under our care.* I think it is true for all of us, anytime we connect with another living being, and it is strengthened when we pay attention to it.
On the call was Rose, a shaman whose life is dedicated to making a bridge between humans and animals with a focus on the energetic connections between all Life. She felt that the bird was aware of Robert’s appreciation, joy, and love for it, because animals feel what is in our hearts. Because we are connected.
Robert was silent for a bit and then said, “I kind of felt that but didn’t really allow myself to believe it…..”
That is part of Earthire’s vision. To help support people to hear those quiet voices inside them but have been taught to dismiss. That is what we have to support. Because therein lies is the wisdom we need in order to change how we live on this Earth and reverse the environmental crises we are now facing.
And that tiny being, feeling appreciated, would sing even more beautifully and joyfully because someone cared. Just like we would. What a model for living together on Earth! Mutual appreciation helping us each express ourselves ever more beautifully and taking joy in one another’s presence and self expression!
Dr. Susan Eirich is the Founder and Executive Director of Earthfire Institute Wildlife Sanctuary and Retreat Center. A licensed psychologist, biologist and educator, her goal is to widen the circle of conversation about conservation to include the voices of all living beings.