Heron Addict

Yesterday I set out on a photo hike. I do these hikes with a certain amount of faith that something will happen on the way that will attract my attention. So, I put on an audio book and focus on breathing while I walk. It becomes a kind of moving meditation. Lately, no content before the virus outbreak has seemed appropriate. We need to learn how to live in this world, so listening to people who are talking about our current situation seems a lot more relevant. 

Yesterday, though, I decided to put on Bertrand Russel’s History of Western Philosophy. While things that were created three months ago seem absolutely obsolete, the intellectual documents of the ancient past and of the beginning of modern times can engage your mind without all of the fear of our current situation. Listening to what they were thinking about way back when can help to feel a sense of faith in our ability to have continuity. Humans have survived plagues and wars and all kinds of natural devastations and have somehow figured out the movements of the celestial beings all the while. This is an amazing accomplishment. Even with all of the brutal conditions of earlier times, there were still minds focused on the heavens and trying to figure out the nature of truth and the truth of our nature. 

So, I was listening to the ideas of some great thinkers and avoiding the fuck out of people as I made my way to the base of campus by the path that leads up to the classified workers yard. I was stopped in my tracks by an apparition. It was a Great Blue Heron. There it was standing in the grass not minding anyone, just seeming to enjoy a moment in the late afternoon sun. I approached quietly and got my camera ready with a long lens.

The Heron seemed to notice me but was not bothered by me and I was able to get as close as my camera could focus. Only once as a man ran by with a dog did the bird show any signs of disturbance. But even then it merely flew twenty feet away and landed again. As I crept over to get some shots of this majestic bird it started circling back to me. I crouched and watched as it came closer and closer to me and I flashed back to when the Turkeys bum rushed me. This time, though, I actually had a moment of concern as this bird is much bigger, standing probably 4 ft. with a serious knife for a beak. 

It got so close that I could only focus on its shoulders, and then it struck the ground and pierced a rodent right through the head. The photos I got are kind of graphic, as you can see the scream of the prey as its consciousness is obliterated by a massive dagger. The bird then flew a dozen yards away and proceeded to swallow the small mammal whole. 

These are the kinds of experiences that I hope for on my hikes, and you cannot force them. The more time I spend out in those landscapes the more familiar I become with the patterns of the animals, but you still can’t plan for an encounter like this one. 

8 Pillars of Positive Action

Some thoughts and strategies for how to crush this challenging time.


1. Practice breathing. Choose a breathing exercise and practice it for four minutes four times a day. Use this exercise to help calm yourself and to check in with your breathing ability. The benefits of oxygenating your body through deliberate breathing are not to be underestimated.


2. Track your hydration. Choose a drinking vessel and decide how many of them you are going to drink during the day. Water is cleansing to the body and will help you to keep your system functioning optimally.


3. Clean aggressively. This is a battle against a virus that can be won with hot water and soap. This is the ultimate Spring Cleaning challenge. The more you clean, the better you will feel. It’s the one most effective thing we can do. Don’t just wash your hands. Wash all of your shit. Soap and water the fuck out of your life right now.


4. Design your menu. Food is such an important source of comfort, sustenance, and vitality right now. Good food is one of the best ways to protect your spirit and your bodily health. How do we avoid the temptations of sweets during this time? For one thing, it is a matter of understanding the basics of nutrition. Sugar is basically harmless if consumed during a period of exercise when the body needs fuel. If you eat a bunch of ice cream and sit around watching Netflix it is going to do much different things than if you eat a bunch of donuts during the middle of a 16-mile hike. If we get smart about food, we can eat lots of pleasurable things and still hit our nutritional goals and not gain a bunch of weight. Now is the time to get smart about food and to treat it as an art.


5. Exercise your heart. Cardiovascular exercise is super important during this time. The best form of exercise right now is walking. If you walk for a few hours a day, you will be giving yourself the opportunity to rejuvenate and recharge your system.


6. Work your networks. Communication is super important during these times. Not only do we need to stay in touch with family and friends, but we need to keep open lines of communication with our professional colleagues, our business partners and our clients or leads. Choosing a number of people to connect with every day ( I chose 5) and checking it off will create an accountability loop. 


7. Limit social media. Until people start using journals to vent their anger and fear, it’s probably a good idea to be very careful about how much social media you consume. Social media is an important tool to use during this time, but it is also a very easy distraction and waste of time. Take a look at your screen time. Imagine if you had spent that amount of time cleaning and exercising. We should use social media for networking and for entertainment, but not all day every day.


8. Choose love and play. There is nothing more motivating and powerful than the feelings of love and the effects of play. These are not trivial things, but essential to our functioning as humans. What do you love to do? Who do you love? What do you want to share? How do you find a lighthearted sense of play? 


These are challenging times, but we have the tools we need to emerge. Of course, the number one thing we need to be doing, so obvious that I didn’t even add it as a pillar, is to stay home and to keep a physical distance from people you are not already exposed to on a regular basis. The first and most important way to defeat the virus is through not allowing it to spread. So, we stay home, clean that fucker and get our minds and bodies right for when it is time to go HAM again.