The other night, I sat out on my deck, and watched two great horned owls make their hunting flights. They swoop and circle over the neighbor’s yard and very close to our house. We have to keep watch on our rather small dog, she doesn’t go out unsupervised, that’s for sure.
In the odd moonlight, created by the abundance of clouds in a dark blue sky, the owls are eerily beautiful. And, isn’t it funny how we categorize things/people/animals/supposed intentions. If I were talking about rabbits, the word ‘eerily’ probably wouldn’t appear. Watching them made me think a thousand thoughts at once. I remembered, from my childhood, my dad saying to me, “Sugarbabe, stuff eats stuff. It ain’t evil or good. Stuff eats stuff. That’s what it does.” He was teaching me to see the reality of things, without judgment. That you can be clear about something, or someone’s, intentions, and not judge them. Protect yourself and your own, without judgment of another. Recognition and discernment are not judgment.
There are predators. All across the board in the animal kingdom – there are predators. Probably, we would set up gradations of predation among humans, as their predation carries entirely different consequences, for entirely different purpose. Yet, there are similarities: Both hunt to feed themselves: One derives nutrients in pattern with seasons and cycles of life; the other, to take down, to belittle, to consume so as to survive a threat that exists only in the mind of the predator. One, in keeping with the pattern of every living heart that beats. One, out of step, cruel and destructive. Sometimes, when we are speaking of humans, it takes time to see them clearly.
There is peace in seeing reality. In seeing people/animals/things as they are, not wishing them to be different, or denying the nature of themselves that they present to you. It is possible, with practice, to see the nature of a person clearly without rancor, bitterness or judgment. And, it is possible to learn to reasonably protect yourself from such predation by nonviolent means, in keeping with your desire to be an honorable person, respecting the dignity of life.
Let’s be clear here, that the ‘predation’ I am speaking of is the bully on the schoolyard or at work, the person in your life who takes advantage or says inappropriate hurtful things, the stranger who makes verbal jabs, the relative whose behaviors have made life difficult. I am not talking about sociopaths or psychopaths here.
That said, what do we do? What do we do, when we are doing our best to be kindness in the world and we are struck with someone’s nasty words? Well, it used to hurt me. I didn’t keep the many positive things said to me around very long, but I held those negative things like they were a favorite childhood comfort toy. Hugged them close to me, examined, analyzed and repeated them to myself. I guess I was trying to find some meaning or reason – what had I done wrong? Then, I would hear my dad’s words, “That’s what stuff does.” And, many years later, I realized, it is that simple. Saying to yourself, in that moment, “Hey, that’s what stuff does. That’s what this ‘stuff’ does. This one says hurtful things. Hmm. Well.” Let that be the only message your brain receives about that moment. And, when you (like I was) are tempted to replay the negative, the hurtful – play it like this, “That’s hurtful. That’s predatory. Hmm. Well.” Because now you know. Someone has shown you their character, their intention. It is up to you what comes next. You need not answer with words or deeds. You sure can decide to whom you will give your company, your friendship. You can go on. You can learn from the experience without keeping or making suffering of it.
Thank you for stopping by. Lilie