"I'm doing you a favor," the strange man in my yard scowled at me.
Except it was a favor that I didn't want and had never asked for …
Now I know that what follows is strictly a first-world problem. I had a snug roof and plenty for breakfast, but the lesson seemed meaningful, so I hope you'll bear with me.
This was the "favor" he was doing:
Shoo-ing away the herd of 50 elk that had visited my yard that morning.
My husband had woken me up with the words "Uh..love...you're going to want to see this…."
I had gotten out of bed to confront the most sublime and exciting sight. The local herd of 50 coastal elk had taken up residence in our front yard!
I admired their gorgeous faces and the depth of their dark eyes. My fingers imagined the feel of their luxurious coat. Their amazing natural energy created a transcendent experience.
And I was learning so much!
How were they so comfortable navigating our suburban neighborhood, threading between cars, wandering over our driveways, leaving natural calling cards on the lawn? (Ok, maybe that last one was obvious!)
I'd always associated elk with deer - classic prey animals - but these elk were so bold!
Instantly, I felt that communing with their relaxed but watchful energy would help me overcome my own fears.
And then I saw the strange man come into our yard…
"Go away" he shouted, waving his arms, shoo-ing the elk into the shallow waters of the river at the edge of our backyard.
When I asked what he was doing, he said:
I've lived here for a long time. You don't want these things around. They'll destroy everything!
I looked over at my neighbor's yard, where I had seen them before they'd moved to mine.
"Everything" did not look destroyed.
The man continued:
They'll blow right through fences! (We don't have any fences.)
They'll eat everything! (They hadn't eaten everything in any one of the neighbor's yards)
They'll poop all over the place! (Okay, I could see for myself that this one was true. Honestly, I idly wondered whether there was a market for that like the shed Canada goose feathers I'd sold on eBay.)
I tried politely ask him to stop, but he was sure he was helping us.
"They don't belong here," he insisted.
Now, I don't think my neighbor is an evil person for wanting to get rid of the elk.
Our clash just illustrates our diverging values.
He seems to think ours is a human neighborhood. No elk allowed.
I think our neighborhood is a part of the larger, natural world where all animals, including humans belong.
I wasn't worried about my non-existent fences. There's plenty of vegetation for both us and the elk. Sharing their energies and lessons with me is more than a fair trade. Plus, they left my herb garden alone - sweet!
For some people, "comfort" is about the human version - sturdy fences, desired landscaping, poop-free yards.
But for others, comfort with nature (or self, or the stars, or the divine) is more important than the preservation of human-made constructions.
So here's the lesson (thank you for sticking with me):
How often has somebody else imposed their version of comfort on us, urging us to take the path they felt was safe, practical, or appropriate, or maybe even taken steps to create that path without consulting us - as my neighbor did?
Or have we imposed our "comfort" others, advocating for (or even shaming others into) what would make us feel better instead of taking time to ask about their perspective?
When does an attempt at helpful support become an imposition of foreign values?
In my opinion, we should be aware of not imposing our version of comfort onto others or allowing others to do that to us.
After my neighbor and the elk had left, I went back to bed, full of sorrow. I had cried and prayed that the elk would not associate our yard with such a negative welcome and that they would bless us with their presence again.
Two hours later, I awoke to the following scene out my back window. It was elk nap time! For four hours, I got to soak in all the elk energy I wanted. Thank you, Spirit, or Elk, or whatever lured them back!
And I can now tell you that we have plenty of elk poop in case anybody wants to buy some!
So where are you finding your own comfort in this world?
Is it different from what you've been taught or told you should be taking comfort in?
Do you use rituals or practices to minimize anxiety, heal from trauma, and find security and peace?
Or are you seeing that you need to cast a wider net for those around you, helping them find their own, unique path to comfort and security?
Let me know how this is landing with you. Hope you are having a beautiful day!