A tiger and the villagers; An owl and the cows

Strange bedfellows make great stories, don’t they?

This week, CBC news reported the unusual friendship between a red-tailed hawk and some cows. In case you don’t live in Canada, or have somehow not seen a weather forecast in the past few months, the Maritime provinces on the east coast of Canada experienced crazy, knock-your-socks-off, don’t-leave-your-house-for-days snowstorms—repeatedly. In early February, Charlottetown, PEI received five feet of snow in a two-week period, and the storms just kept coming.

Unusual weather makes living creatures do unusual things. To escape the wild snowstorms, a red-tailed hawk took refuge in a barn. The storms were so frequent and of such extended duration, the hawk and the cows became friends.

(Awww . . .)

A few years ago I read about an Amur tiger in the Russian Far East Primorye who actively sought out human assistance. Sadly, human activity caused him to need help in the first place; the tiger had a paw caught in a poacher’s trap. Weakened and in pain, the tiger cried out as it approached people.

(A red-tailed hawk is one thing, but a tiger?)

If only we could figure out a way to discover the kinship of strange bedfellows before a crisis. Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

The universe conspires with you

 

universe-coelho

I love the book The Alchemist, and I find its author, Paulo Coelho, inspirational as a writer and a human being. 

Many people don’t agree. I made a visit to the “1 star” section of the Goodreads reviews of The Alchemist and discovered myriad variations on the “What a load of tripe” theme.

Those readers didn’t fall in with the fabled story of a hero journey. They didn’t buy the life wisdoms like the one quoted above. After all, since when does everyone in the universe get what they want? And what about good people who end up suffering?

Coelho recently responded to those concerns with this:

“I realized that despite the fear and the bruises of life, one has to keep on fighting for one’s dream. As Borges said in his writings ‘there no other virtue than being brave’. And one has to understand that braveness is not the absence of fear but rather the strength to keep on going forward despite the fear.”

I think he means this: If you have the ability to complain about NOT getting what you want, then that means that you’re still breathing, and your story is not over yet. There’s still time. 

Get busy. Work hard. Stop whining, because if you don’t, all you’ll get is more of the same. Fight past all those things you fear. Don’t let them paralyze you into inaction.

If you do, you might be amazed at the machinations of the universe. 

___________________

Consider Paulo Coelho’s 25 Important Points. Read them here: http://paulocoelhoblog.com/2014/09/03/25-important-points/

I don’t see what you see: The magic of subjective reality with Dan Tommater

Consider the “blue and black” versus “white and gold” dress controversy. Many people wondered, “Why are we wasting so much time talking about this?”

I think I know why: The idea that other people see the world differently from how we see it is endlessly fascinating to us. I know I marvelled when my son and I, sitting in the same room with the same lighting and viewing the picture from the same angle, saw the picture differently. I saw it as white and gold (at that time—I saw it as blue and black in other cases), and he saw it as blue and black.

Weird, and endlessly fascinating.

Around the time of the controversial social media dress discussion, I received a message from the publicity team for Dan Tromatter. The message included a link to a TED presentation Trommater made at a university. In his presentation, he used magic to demonstrate why it is possible for 7 billion subjective realities to play bumper cars each other all over the world, and he recommended one simple phrase we can use to make headway into greater understanding.

Tell me more, Dan Trommater . . .

St. Paddy: A link to Ottawa Valley heritage

I’m an Ottawa Valley girl who grew up a short drive away from the Douglas Tavern in Douglas, Ontario—the undisputed epicentre of St. Paddy’s Day celebrations.

I remember the Douglas Tavern, affectionately known as “the Diddley”, as the place to which wayward students disappeared when playing hooky from my high school. The “Ladies and Escorts” sign still hangs outside the door—as a nod to history, not as a means of enforcement. The tavern has sticky floors, pickled eggs behind the bar and a permanent stale beer smell.

On St. Patrick’s Day people dressed in Leprechaun-green cram into every corner and belt out “When Irish Eyes Are Smiling.” The crowd overflows to the streets, so the entire community is taken over by shamrock-crazed partiers.

It’s not high-brow entertainment, mind you, but a gathering of more honest, open-hearted people you will never find. 

Not too far from Douglas, life in Mount St. Patrick comes to a virtual stop to make way for the green beer and fiddle music party that celebrates the man for whom the small community is named.

The combination of my English/Irish ancestry and Ottawa Valley heritage means that I celebrate on March 17 with hearty stew, a glass of ale, and a tip of the hat to my ancestors. who had a hard knock life of drudgery making it on unforgiving Canadian terrain. Many times I have done so in Douglas or in Mount St. Patrick, but many more times my celebrations occurred in other far-flung places. But no matter whether I was in Mexico on a student exchange, in Windsor at university, on March Break vacations at Mont Ste. Anne, QC, Whistler, BC, Lake Louise, AB, or Florida, a little piece of my soul was always back in the Ottawa Valley on St. Patrick’s Day.

Given his hard life, I think St. Patrick would have enjoyed a hearty stew and a glass of ale. Given the hard work my ancestors faced carving their farms out of the rocky Ottawa Valley landscape, I think they too would have tucked into a bowl of hot stew with ravenous gratitude. (I’m not sure about the ale, though; there were a number of teetotalers in recent generations.)

My stew is in the slow cooker, the ale is chilling in the fridge, and the green shamrock cookies are ready for dessert. Now, I must go dig out the fiddle music.

When I sing, a little corner of my soul will be in the Ottawa Valley.

Her eyes they shone like diamonds
I thought her the queen of the land
And her hair it hung over her shoulder
Tied up with a black velvet band

_____________

My 500th post: What better time for Calvin and Hobbes?

ch910416

Calvin and Hobbes Comic Strip, April 16, 1991 on GoComics.com

I’m celebrating 500 posts with a little of Bill Watterson’s genius. This is one of my favourites.

Carpe Diem. Make the most of your precious few footsteps. 

Happy New Year

Bloom where and how you are planted: The solution to “problem paralysis”

All around us: hungry mouths, people without affordable housing, victims of physical or sexual abuse, ill people suffering from diseases we could help cure, war casualties, crimes against humanity, child soldiers, gender bias, and the list goes on . . .

In the past, news of events in far-flung lands took days, weeks or months to filter its way around the world. By the time information travelled half a globe, the need for action had passed. And why do something for people so far away anyway?

These days, high-tech global communications systems convey news to us instantly. High-definition videos show us the creases of pain in human faces. Twitter feeds us first-person accounts of injustices. We see things, we know things, and we learn about them in time to do something.

A pointing finger jabs us in the chest. Do something. Do something. Do something. How can YOU live with this injustice?

Why aren’t YOU fixing this RIGHT NOW?

Guilt, guilt, guilt.

Hold on. Back up. Even if we split ourselves into a million pieces we could never fix all the problems. It’s overwhelming. In the face of it, we suffer “problem paralysis.” We think, “I can’t fix it all, so why even bother doing anything?

“Bloom where you are planted,” the floral metaphor suggests. I would add: “Bloom how you are planted.”

Grow fully where you are, and don’t try to be a lily if you’re really chicory.

Sometimes, lilies think everyone should bloom with the same regal beauty they do; they expect all “flowers” to share their same passions. What a boring and out-of-balance field of wildflowers that would be, without the nodding blue heads of chicory, the innocent white daisies, or the blushing pink wild roses.

One of the gifts of age is the gift of self-knowledge. I have come to accept my strengths and weakness. I have learned about my own passions, and I have learned what work I need to leave to others because their passion serves those purposes better.

I’m not here to do it all. I’m not supposed to do it all; I only have to do my part of it. I might not grow with the height or the potent fragrance of a Tiger Lily, but maybe I add something like the healing blue presence of nodding chicory.

The cure for problem paralysis is clear discernment of passions. Figure out what fires you up, and do that. Figure out which things make you say, “Meh” and leave that work to others.  Don’t feel guilty about not sharing someone else’s passion and don’t pressure anyone to share yours.

Act on your own passions and support others in theirs and between us all, what a beautiful field of wildflowers we will be.

lynns-flower-garden1

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