Good morning, everyone ~

S2GX65 Cuban tree frog

In the cooler hours of pre-dawn, the light from inside my office attracts insects to the window by my desk where I sit typing. Insects attract frogs. It’s a phenomenon that never fails to capture my attention. To suddenly be distracted by the appearance of a frog’s pale belly plastered to the outside of my window makes me smile. Frogs are doing their job — population control! 

Living on reclaimed swamp land, surrounded by trees, we often have the privilege of viewing wildlife. This week alone, there had been:

BXPYN9 Bald Cypress Trees reflecting in the water in a florida swamp on a warm summer day

– deer, ambling through the neighborhood (including a mom with twins);

– a pair of black racers, clearly in hunting mode, searching along the edge of the brick walkway amongst the leaf litter;

– a mated pair of squirrels, stretched out atop the pagoda, trying to find a modicum of breeze and shade to help them endure the triple-digit heat of the day;

– a broad-head skink, lounging on the tile porch with her gravid belly indicating the imminent arrival of the next generation;

– the shed skin of a rarely spotted yellow-lip snake, lying in full view of the world that has not seen its owner in many years;

– and for the first time in my lifetime, a fledgling hummingbird, stitching a ragged path from nest to where its mother gathered nectar

…… not to mention the countless sightings of various lizards, butterflies, dragonflies, etc. 

These are the things that fill my eyes and nourish my mind after a long day of dire news events. I need such moments in my life! Especially when it seems that humans are determined to destroy themselves and the world around them. When humans disappoint me, Nature heals me. 

Which begs the question: How is Nature healed when humans disappoint them? One of the oldest commandments given to humans is “replenish the earth”, with the connotation of living in harmony with Nature. Even when a human lives alone, it seems a difficult if not impossible thing to live in harmony, for we have evolved into a disquieted species. There are exceptions, of course; and, likely, those exceptions are suffering from compassion fatigue. The few cannot possibly care for the many who are disgruntled, disappointed, depressed, de-evolving. 

Oh, I suppose cavemen fought over who would ‘own’ the best cave, or who would get the larger portion of the wild-grain harvest. Human greed, after all, is as old as human disappointment. It would seem then that human kindness is likewise as old as human existence, eh? Yet, Nature is older than human beings! Nature is also still providing humans with the one sustenance that we all have in common: the need to feel wanted, needed, necessary, part of something greater than self.

I’m thinking now of that very old black-n-white film: “The Incredible Shrinking Man”. In particular, that final scene in which the shrinking man is feeling lost in a ‘forest’ of lawn grass, being stalked by the mountain-sized house-cat, and aware that he will keep on shrinking until there he becomes less than a nanoparticle. Terror fades as he gazes into the starry sky overhead. His final heard-words: “I am part of it!” No matter how small, invisible, insignificant he might feel or seem, he remained part of that Something Bigger Than Self.

And so are we, my friends. Each of us. Every one of us. We simply lose sight of that fact whenever the daily news chases after us like a devouring beast, causing us to view a trip to the grocery store as if we’re marching onto a battlefield. Or when inflation keeps taking from us our small pleasures and whittles away at what we can afford in the area of necessities. Or when the very people we thought we could count on to be there for us, to help us in time of need morph into strangers (or worse, enemies) … . Yes, we remain part of that Something Greater Than Self.

And, yes — so too are those man-made things out there intent on devouring us and everything we’ve worked our whole lives to achieve. They too are part of it. Just as the bug and the frog that eats it; and the hawk who stalks the squirrel; and the businessmen who provide affordable housing for the elderly by bulldozing down the trees where the birds/squirrels/insects/spiders/etc. live. And the humans who are destroying humans, be it with guns or tanks or defamation of character. 

I cannot begin to even imagine the future as it likely will be; nor can I begin to foretell the tipping point (or in which direction it will go). I’ll not pretend to have such credentials. I’ll leave those prognostications to The Experts.

can, however say this: am part of the Whole — that endless Whole. I am doing what I can, from where I am, and with whatever resources I have to make my part of it as nurturing a presence as is possible. I know I’m not alone, for I know that each of you is also part of that Whole we all share. As we continue doing what we can, from where we are, with whatever resources we have available, let us not lose sight of the Beauty that remains. Even as the ‘monster’ stalks us through the grass-forest, we can still Look Up and see our place in Life. 

This week I learned a new word: pandiculation. It means to stretch the whole body (envision a cat stretching after a nap). Experts in the field of kinesthetics recommend such for us humans. We ought to do a full-body stretch every 45-60 minutes, especially if we work at a desk, stare at a computer screen or into our phones much of the time. Stand, stretch up, reach out, push your feet into the floor. Yawn or at least stretch your face muscles into a smile. Squinch your eyes shut and open them wide; and look around, beyond, past the focal point you were mesmerized by for the past hour.

Now, apply “pandiculation” to your mind. Stretch it past the news that has continually fed into your brain. Stretch it into the endless Whole, and inward into the necessary space of YOU. Squinch the inner eye closed; the eye that has seen too much of Too Much for too long; then, open the mind’s eye to a broader view … beyond yesterday’s headlines, past the border wars, into the Infinite where balance still exists. 

Yes, our physical world may be shrinking incredibly fast, along with our resources/health/abilities. And, yes — there is a Beyond, a future that holds potentials, possibilities, incredible hope. We just need to pandiculate toward that Something that is Greater than the sum of us all. 

Throughout human history, humans have targeted humans, manipulated human minds, groomed human nature toward becoming an obedient cog in the wheel of greed, fortune, power, control. We can give out, give up, give in; or, we can pandiculate! There’s more to Life than the narrow views (i.e., greed, corruption, war, etc.). There’s more to you than meets the eye! 

If a better future is to be created, then the more of us who pandiculate toward that goal, the more easily it can be accomplished.

I’ll keep stretching your neurons. You keep stretching into your own potential. Together, we make a pretty darn incredible Whole! BE incredible! Keep stretching, not shrinking. 

Remember that frog on the window, gathering its early morning breakfast? Frog did not shrink from the light that exposed it to its own predators. Nor did the insects shrink away from that very same light that drew its attention, despite the obvious presence of that very big frog nearby. Nor did that tiny fledgling hummingbird shrink into its wee lichen and spider silk nest. It stitched a path through the large world of predators and dangers to follow its mother to a greater source of nectar. And those fragile newborn twins followed Mama Deer through a mine-field of danger in order to reach their sanctuary Beyond the Here-n-Now. 

Stay kind. Stay safe. Stay brave. Pandiculate!

Gentle hugs/much love,