How to be a good creature.

climbingfishSy Montgomery’s delightful book, How To Be a Good Creature, is a ‘Memoir in Thirteen Animals‘. What an interesting way to organize a memoir, focusing on the impact various animals have made on her life and what they have taught her about co-existing as fellow creatures on this planet! It is a profound, yet simple, book.

If you were to write a memoir of your life through that lens, who would the animals be that impacted your life in meaningful and enriching ways? What life lessons did you learn? How were your limits expanded from sharing space with that fellow creature?

For inspiration, consider Montgomery’s words:

All the animals I’ve known–from the first bug I must have spied as an infant, to the moon bears I met in Southeast Asia, to the spotted hens I got to know in Kenya–have been good creatures. Each individual is a marvel and perfect in his or her own way. Just being with any animal is edifying, for each has a knowing that surpasses human understanding. A spider can taste the world with her feet. Birds can see colors we can’t begin to describe. A cricket can sing with his legs and listen with his knees. A dog can hear sounds above the level of human hearing, and can tell if you’re upset even before you’re aware of it yourself. Knowing someone who belongs to another species can enlarge your soul in surprising ways.

I often wish I could go back in time and tell my young, anxious self that my dreams weren’t in vain and my sorrows weren’t permanent. I can’t do that, but I can do something better. I can tell you that teachers are all around to help you: with four legs or two or eight or even none, some with internal skeletons, some without. All you have to do is recognize them as teachers and be ready to hear their truths.

Today, consider the wonder of creation around you and thank your teachers of the non-human persuasion.

 

Thank an animal.

snoozepup

Those of us with pets know how close the bond between animal and human can be. You look deep into the eyes of a cat or dog and see another soul, one who greets you, perhaps, with unrestrained love and affection. We think of ourselves as caring for our pets and sometimes forget how deeply they care for us in return. The bond between animal and human can be transcendent. And, beyond dogs and cats, is that close bond possible?

In this remarkable video, consider Blue, the pot-bellied therapy pig who cheers up seniors in assisted living:

It is not unusual to see 2 year old Blue in the hallways cheering up people a few times a month….

[Blue’s certification as a therapy pig] has been rewarding for both pig and people. The potbelly helps residents “get out of their element” and forget about pain or depression they may be experiencing, says Nu Vista Living Facility lifestyle director Pamela Collins.

“It’s amazing how much Blue is drawn to the people at the nursing home, it is as if she just knows that they need her,” said Zamora-Duran.

Life on Earth is complex, and the possibilities for connection nearly limitless. Isn’t it remarkable that we all–humans and animals–can connect as we share this planet?

Hug your goldfish.

animals

Have you ever loved an animal? When you looked in her eyes you knew that she loved you right back and that she somehow understood you down to your core… and loved you anyway. There is something humbling about that insight–to realize that it isn’t just about humans, that animals are creatures with souls, too. And there is something awe-inspiring about realizing that animals can love. It makes the world a bigger more interesting place.

Love is what it’s all about. Check out this photo montage of babies with their doting animal friends to remind yourself that this world is a loving, hopeful, delightful place.