I remember the first time I saw a giraffe in the wild.
Traveling to Africa was something I'd dreamt about my whole life. In 1999 my now hubby and I were flying back from somewhere... It was winter, during the holiday mayhem and the airline we were flying was overbooked. They offered a bump with tickets for $1,000.00 each to go anywhere in the world. We said, "Yes!"
Our journey began in Cape Town, South Africa where we spent several days before boarding a train to Pretoria. It was there we picked up a car and spent the next three and half weeks meandering back. Krugar would be our first game park. As we drove in, a giraffe appeared out of the bush. My heart sang as we snapped photos. Oh my...I was in awe of this majestic, almost ancient looking creature moving awkwardly - yet with a sense of elegance, through the trees. But what struck me most were the cars zipping by.
"There's a giraffe here people! Do you not get that?" I said.
What I realized is for many, the giraffe were like deer here in the U.S. You've seen one, you've seen them all, until one day - when perhaps there aren't anymore giraffe's. Did you know their population is shrinking too?
It's interesting...the way we choose to treat the earth and the animals that live upon it. I remember as a child having many arguments about the value of human life versus an animal's. I was young...maybe nine or ten. It wasn't that I gave value over the other, it was that neither held more value for me. Logic wasn't required. Analyzing brain size or capacity didn't matter. I never bought into the rank and file system of categorizing species into an order of superiority.
This isn't about proving or disproving the value of one being over another. Quite the opposite. The picture is much bigger than our nose. It's that the moment we began to say we are the superior species we chose to diminish life. The only place superiority comes from is judgment. We chose to function standing above only to look down. Standing above a field of corn, a rose, an animal...changing their structural make-up to fit our lifestyle.
As humans we have amazing talents and abilities. We can walk up to a tree and keep it alive by offering it water. We can lift up our fellow brothers and sisters with a simple smile. We can look into a dog's eyes and ask, "What kindness can I be?" We can pick up that random piece of trash saying thank you to the earth. What if the phenomenal gifts and capacities we have as humans are to create something miraculous - something way beyond our homogenized world. If we truly were superior we would ask instead of assume. We would extend gratitude to the animals providing meat. The tree providing shade. We would listen to science but even more we would listen to what we know. We would choose relationships that lift us up. We would choose allowance and grace and encourage people to shine. There would be no "mini me's."
The thing is...the planet is speaking. And if you allow yourself to lower your barriers even the teeniest of bits - you can hear her too. The earth and the animals can only take so much - I mean cmon' you know how it feels when the people in your life take and take and take, soon forgetting you are even there. Auto pilot kicks in and wha la - dinner is on the table, gas is in the car - the gratitude, the acknowledgment for the miraculous fades to a dull thud.
What I have come to know is there is SO MUCH MORE available for all of us. There is a magical world filled with possibilities WAY beyond anything we have conjured up thus far. There are people and animals and the even the earth - in front of every single one of us - right now - in this moment asking to contribute to our lives - if we listen.
What I've come to know in my own life is I can hear the same message fifty times yet on the fifty-first a switch might flip and a new awareness is born.