Reflections on a non-Human Centred View Way of Living
Cold, wet leaves
Floating on moss-coloured water
And the croaking of frogs—
Cracked bell-notes in the twilight. – Amy Lowell
Many years ago I had a pond dug in our backyard. At first it was for our golden retriever to swim in when it was mostly just a muddy hole, then our kids swam in the pond as frogs and our goldfish swam about as the first bullrushes arrived, and now, with the dog long gone and kids moved away to live their own lives my wife and I go swimming in our “cottage resort in the back woods” whenever the heat overwhelms us – which has been often this summer. As you can see, it is no longer a muddy hole!
As we were swimming yesterday among the frogs, water spiders and boatman water beetles with our daughter’s Australian shepherd swimming in circles around us to keep “us safe”, it occurred to me that this experience was what it was like to live in a non-human centred world. Yes, I had dug the pond, but after that nature had taken over. Without my assistance the moss and weeds and bulrushes and willow trees arrived and made a muddy hole attractive to ducks and frogs and even my honey bees who drink from the damp moss on hot summer days.
Yes, I have to add water every week with my garden hose because of our drought, but other than minimal effort we get to enjoy a cool swim and share that blessing with all the other creatures who live around us. It seems to me that it is possible to have your cake and eat it – that is, humans can live a rich and happy life ALONG WITH all the rest of creation if we share our experiences with all the plants and animals around us. They not only deserve to live but more importantly benefit and enrich our lives in myriad ways. How can you compare the dead chlorine waters of a concrete pool which has dead frogs in it with enjoying the symphony of spring peepers singing in joyful abandon? How can you compare the huge expense and hours of cleaning and adding of chemicals to keeping a concrete pool “clean” with the simple pleasure of doing nothing but simply enjoying the joy that our dog takes from chasing frogs and never catching them?
Why, we even have a mini-cottage by our pond to sleep in, which my daughter has done often this Spring/summer because of Covid-19 restrictions. This cottage that does not intrude upon our friends the bears or coyotes. Why, a bear walked right by our cottage last Spring to grab some honey from my bees and was not threatened by the miniscule cabin. It is the right size – it does not dominate – it is a part of the landscape. That is how we are all learning we must live – we are to be just a part of the landscape; not dominant, because when we dominate we destroy the lives of other “people” – all my friends the frogs and bees and ducks that benefit even more than I do from our pond. So, dear friend, enjoy this beautiful day and share it with all the other “people” around you – both human and non-human. Hundreds of years ago it was a shock for people to realize that the Earth was NOT the centre of the solar system and thus humans are not the center of creation. Today there is a realization that a human-centred view of life is not only a lie but is also destructive. So, live a little and avoid the pool and swim in a pond!