Prose by Wayne Visser
~ We were all born to be wild and tricked into being tame ~Do you enjoy the great outdoors? Have you ever been on safari? Do you have a favourite wild animal? There is something about life in the wild that we find irresistibly attractive – we are drawn to it. It reminds us how incredible nature is, from the smallest microbes to the largest mammals. The more we learn about the complex web of life, the more awestruck it leaves us. If you are an engineer, you can only marvel at the design perfections. If you are a scientist, the intricate interplay of diverse elements is fascinating. If you are an entrepreneur, the innovation of species to find their niche will amaze you. For the military strategist, the battles for survival in nature are an endless source of ideas. And for the artist, the manifest beauty of creation is a wellspring that never runs dry. No matter who we are or what we do, it is near impossible not to be inspired by wildlife. It is humbling to contemplate our place as humans on this earth – one species among countless others; one species threatening the existence of so many, through ignorance and arrogance. Ironically, the very wildlife we are destroying holds the key to our own salvation. Animals in the wild, living in dynamic harmony with their surroundings and each other, are exemplars of the balance that we have lost. Not that nature is without its fair share of violence and seeming cruelty, but it lacks our excessive appetite for greed. Wildlife is intimately in tune with the cycles of life – the rhythms of the sun and the moon, the changing of the seasons and the inevitability of birth and death. By contrast, somehow we have lost touch with nature’s longings, fallen out of sync with her moods and become deaf to her music. Wildlife can not only help us to re-establish our resonance with nature, but also inspire us in a highly personal and individual way. All the ancient tribes of the world knew the secret power of animal totems. Animals were their teachers, their guardians. So much so that the line between animal and human was not sharply drawn like it is today, but blurred, even erasable. Many believed that they would be reincarnated as their totem, and their tribal shamans had the mystical gift of shapeshifting – of changing from human into animal, and back again. No wonder they had such a deeply held respect for wildlife. Do you have a totem animal? Is there a creature from the wild that inspires you, whose traits serve as a role model for your own life? Could it be the compassion of the elephant that moves you? Or the resourcefulness of the fox? Or the teamwork of the wild dog? If you don’t already have one, why not choose a totem today? Let it be a symbol of what you value most, a reminder of the ideals you strive for, a metaphor for the characteristics in people that you admire. It may be the start of a surprisingly enriching journey of discovery, as you learn more about the animal, and in turn, about yourself. Perhaps it will reawaken some of the wildness in your heart, your desire to be free. We are all looking for the courage to break out of our cages, to no longer be bound by the expectations of others. We yearn to follow our instincts about what is good and right for us. The lessons of wildlife can help you to become that person you know you can be, to see the lion inside the pussycat, and to realise that today is your day to roar.
Wayne Visser © 2005
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