Occupy Your Resilience

A young redtail hawk has moved into the trees along our tiny stream.

His “screeee!” slices through my prevaricating when I’m untethered and floundering. I’m forced to stop chasing the monkeys in my mind and focus outward. To him.

He (I’m almost certain the hawk is a young male) hunts our wet meadow most days. Sitting on an empty oak branch, utterly still, it’s like he’s staging his own “Occupy” movement. “Occupy my hawkness.”

I’ve found that I really admire his dogged determination. He sat on that branch through the snows and ice storms of late winter, feathers puffed, head tucked. Occasionally dropping languidly to skim the surface of the piling snow and loop up on a different branch.

Unruffled. The hawk abides.

He takes what the ecosystem tosses his way, whether it’s sleet or slow-moving voles. Even the relentless crows who dog him as he hunts. He occupies. He trusts. He gives as good as he gets. Especially to any crow who gets careless when they tussle. (I know it’s unfair to take sides, but I’m usually pulling for him when they do.)

He is embedded in his ecosystem. He’s resilient.

The natural world is our most skilled teacher of all things resilience. To learn, though, it takes not just distant observation, but remembering that we are also nature. That through watching with empathy – through a kind of communion – we’re opening up access to our own native resilience skills.

Believe, use your native skills, persist.

Naturalists and scientists call it anthropomorphizing when we attribute human emotions and motivations to animals.

I call it exploring our kinship. Finding a way to relate. Finding a common vocabulary of gesture, action, body language, since, at least outwardly, we don’t share a spoken language. It takes reaching across a self-created, self-perpetuated, self-destructive chasm between people and nature to find what we need to create relationship: the commonalities.

Even when we as people cross that gulf through spiritual communication (animal and nature communicators do this) the very human, very tangible part of us craves observable, personally experienced connection. With my young hawk friend, our intuitive connection can’t replace how it feels for me to live with and see him thrive, despite what life tosses his way.

You see, deep inside I know – know –  that I’m related to that resilient, determined, aerial artist and his cousins. And through our kinship I have access to what he does natively — thrives despite sleet, deep snow, scarce food, and thieving crows. I see him find that in himself, and am sparked to find it in myself.

When he flourishes I believe I can, too.

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