It is fairly early here, a still morning after a rather stormy night. Muddy underfoot with the long seedy grass heads still bowing under the weight of the rain that cloaked them. Skylarks singing. Paradise ducks doing their raucous call and response with their mate.
Roger, my generous neighbour has recently got a new batch of calves. Little steers, soft brown and white, black and white, hip bones high and small testicles the signal that they are sadly destined for plates (sorry Vegetarians and Vegans). They are about 4 months old and young enough to remember that people often mean a source of food, so they are not terrified of humans yet. Sensibly wary is how i would describe them.
I needed to walk through two paddocks of them to explore the part of the farm i wanted to stretch out on and i noticed something that my metaphor obsessed brain played around with and i thought i would share with you. What i noticed was how each calf responded differently to my presence. And how their response shaped their experience. Here's how it worked.
Walking in their paddock, getting closer to them, i came to raise the level of concern in them from wary noticing to fear. "Gotta get away from this" began to be the feeling in the little herd as i marched along. And what happened next was interesting.
As i came to represent fear for them some of them stood watching me to the side of the path. I walked by those ones without them having to move or get agitated.
Some of them were in my path and sensibly moved to the side. Their agitation probably calmed pretty quickly as fear inducing me moved further away.
Some of them careened away in front of me, small hooves skittering in the mud, banging against each other but persisting in their determination to stick to the path. They kept going on the obvious road despite the fact that "fear" was still on their tail. They were visibly anxious and it wasn't until some calfy-genius decided to veer off the path and his mates followed that calm was restored and me in my function as fear kept on her way, leaving them in peace to moo each other into a state of calm and order again.
I thought about the wisdom of the ones who chose to stand aside and watch fear pass by. How they maintained a state of ease and peace by not engaging with me apart from the wise noticing.
I thought about the ones who responded to my presence in a more reactive way but soon found their wits in stepping off the worn path and out of the path that fear was taking. Able to calm themselves in a short time.
And then there were the ones who let the presence of fear rob them of their thinking mind and into being swept ahead, into more contact with fear. They stuck to the worn path. They spent much more time engaging with the very thing they were trying to escape.
How often do i charge down a well worn path with fear at my heels when i would be better served by standing calmly and watching it march on its way?