I had the amazing opportunity and gift to go to the Galapagos this year and had one of the most life-changing experiences where I was able to sit quietly staring into a giant tortoise of 150 years old, its eyes, bright gray/blue, just like mine. I have never felt such a sense of safety, connection, and part of something bigger, and had the honor of being reminded that I am a part of a lifecycle. As I sat, I was able to hear the turtle breathing slowly and steadily, and munching on grass. His eyes were fixated on mine, then suddenly the turtle shed a tear, which brought tears to my eyes. At that moment, we shared the same function of the physicality of tears, and also the connection and curiosity for each other. The turtle ventured toward me as I sat quietly and I was reminded of the concepts of inclusivity and connection, resilience to endure. Looking into the turtle’s eyes, I also felt the presence of my father who passed away last year. Was it him, or just a simple reminder that life is eternal? I will never forget that experience and it inspired me to be intentional and to look into human and animal eyes, and feel the connection, the soul, the universe, and the commonality that we share. I am going to keep this practice.
During that week in the Galapagos, I also had the experience of studying how each species exhibited similar qualities of love, care, nurturing, inclusivity, and resilience. When I stared into their eyes, I felt warmth, connection, and curiosity. For the most part the animals, birds, and fish were friendly because they had not had the experience of being scared off by humans, and most importantly they rely on each other for their food and lifecycles. A true demonstration of bio-diversity and inclusivity. I was a guest on their islands and felt welcomed and included and incredibly privileged to be in their presence. More than ever, I was reminded that humans are a part of nature and that we share commonalities in how we nurture and feed our young, show love for each other by grooming and petting, playfulness, and contentment swimming, and eating, and resting.
I began to ponder these concepts and asked these questions of myself:
Adaption: How can I better adapt to life’s challenges, versus resist them?
Accepting: How can I be more accepting of myself, and therefore others?
Resilience: How can I take steps to build resilience versus staying stuck in fear?
Biodiversity: How can I be more inclusive by being less judgemental of myself and others (even if unconscious)?
Connection: How can I build more connection and community in my life, especially in a remote environment?
Witnessing the commonalities between species reminded me of these concepts:
Take pleasure in the precious moments to notice,feel love, and the miracles of life all around you. In doing so we can feel a sense of calm, groundedness, and eternal aspect of life, to keep moving forward, even in our darkest moments. These fish, birds, and mammals evolved and adapted to the forces of nature, and demonstrated resilience without question, just as humans can.
Whether a volcano erupts, the erosion of a caldera into the sea, the impact of el-Niño, life reaches the last stage of its existence, and the extinction of a species then satisfies marine life, which then influences and creates room for new life. If we let go, and let nature do its work, versus trying to control it, then we realize we are part of something bigger, adapt to the change, and are able to build resilience to move forward with more courage and confidence. You don’t have to go to the Galapagos to experience connection, or to be reminded how to build resilience, adapt and embrace what life has to throw at us. But we can always be mindful to look into each other’s eyes, remind each other that the personal is universal, and that we need and can support each other. If we do, then life can be less fearful and daunting, even in the darkest of moments. We can adapt, learn, grow, and change individually and collectively, and trust your role as a human in the process.