Recently, my friend Kate Rubin told me about a CBC radio show interviewing the author Richard Louv on his new book Our Wild Calling: How Connecting with Animals Can Transform Our Lives and Save Theirs.  The basic premise is that interacting with animals all around us, and in a conscious, mindful way matters to us and to them.  He says we’ve all had these encounters but may not notice them or retell them, and that it is the stories of these encounters and the retelling of them, that carries the medicine of change. The more we tell them and hear them, the more meanings are revealed.

This rings true for me, as an English Literature major, where I would read and re-read stories and find deeper and deeper layers of meaning revealed to me as I sat with the stories. Louv has gathered amazing stories of contact with animals, wild, domestic and in-between.  My friend Kate was particularly impacted by a story Louv tells about an oceanographer’s close encounter with an octopus, which appear to be about two conscious beings communicating.  Hearing Kate tell it, impacted me as well in her telling, so much so that I found the story to hear it myself. 

Here is the radio show.  Fast forward to 8 minutes, 30 seconds to 11 minutes, 35 seconds, where the radio show tracked down the oceanographer and captured the story directly from the source. Paul Dayton is the oceanographer who tells us his story about an encounter with an octopus 50 years ago.

One thing that struck me is that Paul put himself in a state where he forcibly relaxed himself and was able to connect deeply with the other animal from that state of consciousness  Being in touch with ourselves, our breath and our place of calm does bring us into the present moment where, it seems, connection resides.

I wrote an article a while ago about encounters I had with squirrels when growing up.  It stayed with me although I was a child at the time.   The squirrels taught me how to be in that present moment, as it was only when I was completely calm and “going slowly” that one of the squirrels would come forward and gingerly take a peanut directly from my hand. We had an understanding in those moments and those encounters and part of the pact was this going slow consciousness.

Louv’s contention is that there exists a network of transcendent connection and that it is all around us and accessible by connecting with animals of various sorts – from birds going by to the cats in our neighbourhood.  We need only tune in – to pay attention consciously – to that life around us.

This inquiry opens my experience to realize I’ve had these connective moments often, perhaps almost daily.  But I didn’t have the words for it.  Louv supplies those.

Have you had any encounters with animals that have impacted you?

“To protect anything, we have to know it and to protect it.”  … Richard Louv