Back to reality with a bump – crap rescue posters fail to change the world.
I came back from the wildlife rescue centre in Sussex on a strange high.
Yes, I’d seen death and suffering but I’d also seen a lot of life and recovery. I felt good about the likes of Trevor and his team who were out there and making a difference and I also felt good because… seeing all that suffering made me feel more in touch with….something…. I had, if only briefly, a finer sense of what mattered: to be in tune with other beings, to care about something other than my waistline, to live more fully because of it.
A flowering of compassion.
But then I came back to London….
Beep, beeeeep ‘get out of the fahcking way!!’.
A strange and worrying thing happened…very perceptibly, almost overnight, I began closing down. My petals folded in and around me – and within 24 hours I was concerned with very personal issues (Martin your hairline IS important, EVERYONE CARES ABOUT YOUR HAIR) and less about other things (those animals are in a nice FOREST, they are FAR AWAY, its all NATURAL..)
I don’t blame London for this, I don’t blame myself even, I blame…well, human-nature. We let the small things overshadow the big things
How does that work exactly?
If my country was being destroyed by aliens and someone came and nicked my yoghurt, in that moment I’d be more upset about my yoghurt than my country. It was RASPBERRY FLAVOUR!!
I think George Elliot said it better when she (yes, George was a ‘she’, that much I remember from my English A-level) gave the metaphor of someone who, wearing glasses, mistakes a dot on their lens for a vast object looming on the horizon.
And when I returned, from where I was standing the end of my nose looked bigger than the whole of Sussex. Why were you rescuing wildlife Martin, when you could have been picking your nose?
My experience of compassion shut-down both intrigued and worried me because it was, in microcosm, what happened to me as a child. I was once alert, compassionate and sensitive to animals. As I got older that softness hardened over with a sooty, weathered shell. I lost touch with my compassion and now I’m wondering why? And here is was, happening all over again.
Furthermore without the help of veterans like Trevor I realised how useless I was. What could I do to help animals RIGHT NOW WITH MY OWN HANDS?
I had to do something. But what? I’d already found that walking around looking for animals in distress didn’t work. Instead I had to do something to make them come to me.
Genius! That was it: I’d make a poster asking if anyone knew of any animals that might be in trouble and offering my help. I had a car, I had a degree and I had a heart. Yes, that wouldn’t look strange at all. So I spent the afternoon with (poor) Ann putting up my posters on all the trees and walls around the immediate Hackney vicinity.
I went home, had some yoghurt and checked my emails.
2 hours later: not a word. The animals would come, I told myself. I sat and waited like a hunter waits for his prey. No, that’s not right.
The next day….still no animal emails.
…and the next….STILL NO ANIMALS!!
But then…. a message came in about a cat:
‘Pussy Riot is Free!! – Avaaz.org’
I would save the pussy!
No Martin, that pussy doesn’t need saving. You must try harder.
And at that, my long soft petals closed in on me a little more.