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Lessons from Sandhill Crane

The morning of Nov. 7, 2020- I took a walk at a local community farm and nature preserve. I was hoping to spend some quality time with the newly arrived Sandhill Cranes. They winter here close to where I live, and have returned for the season. Their sounds and their peaceful nature, the way they seem to dance with each other and accept the presence of people and geese, everything about these birds brings me to a sense of peace.

Just as I had found a group of them and begun to settle in, Kaboom! Someone who lived along the boundary of the farm started to let off fireworks. It startled everyone, most importantly it brought a flight of terror to all the birds. Hundreds of birds took flight and at once, the farm was empty of all wildlife. The sheer shock of the soundwave induced adrenaline. I had come to the farm for stress relief and a dose of nature, and to bond with the delightful cranes and in an instant that changed. This firestorm of sound created shock and made an abrupt end of my plans, my peace, and of my proximity to the birds.

As I began to make my way back to my car, I felt anger. There was a concentric ring of fear and anger that rippled first from the sound and then continued to ripple from me, and I began to judge the person who let off the fireworks. Why? In the middle of the day, midweek, in Nov?

A few steps more and another person began to hoot and hollar. I was befuddled. What was going on? Why were all the people around me in this beautiful natural setting being so loud and disrespectful? My whole being contracted. And, as I walked on I became aware of my contempt and judgement towards others around me- interrupting the peace that "should" be here in this natural setting.

As I walked on- I could sense with each passing step that I was caught in the experience and my mind was looping the experience as well as adding judgement to it. I wasn't free. The moment had passed, but I kept stepping back into it.

The cranes- they moved on. They flew somewhere else and had by now settled back in to socializing and eating, to just being cranes. They took flight and left what had happened behind them. They weren't trying to rationalize it, to understand or make sense of anything. They were being. They knew in the moment they were safe, that they could fly. Their act of flying away gave them a new setting, space from what had happened. Their nature, of being in the present moment at all times, gave them freedom.

Thank you Cranes, though I didn't have a lot of time to be in your presence, you taught me so much. You reminded me how much a present being in the present moment is.

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