The one thing that will always slow your mind

All summer I’ve been reading Barry Lopez’s book, “Arctic Dreams” — it’s very, very long and I still have a ways to go — and the other night, I read this line which I’m very grateful for:

Watching animals always slows you down.

As someone who is always looking to slow down on multiple levels, I was really struck by by the suggestion that there’s something out there that will “always” slow me down, at least according to Lopez. In my own experience this has been quite true, even though I’d never thought about it this way.

I was up at our family’s cabin the night I read this line, and the next day, I noticed that indeed, every time I saw wild animals — butterflies, bees, moths, hawks, salamanders, toads, rabbits, deer, many different songbirds, crows, and even a bear in the distance — my interior mental world suddenly downshifted into something slower and more focused.

I wasn’t actively bird-watching or tracking or anything like that, just sitting on the porch or driving or walking along. I realized that the animals I saw were actually changing my interior world by disrupting the mental noise and rushing thoughts with a sudden dawning of slow and quiet focus.

It was such a blessing to notice this, to receive this gift of deeper awareness from Lopez and from the animals around me. I think it’s interesting and lovely that just “watching” them can do this.

It was lovely, too, to note that this has been happening all my life, soothing, healing, calming me beneath my conscious awareness. Perhaps this is one of the reasons I am so drawn to wild places and the natural world.

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