Rats and squirrels

We once had a rat in our garden. I think it was attracted by the pear ­čŹÉ tree in the shady corner of the lot. In the mornings I would find half eaten pears on the ground. Sometimes I’d even see the portly rat scuttling down the fence line. I tried the ‘live and let live’ approach but over time it started to get bolder and approach the house. It was time for action.

After a lot of googling and experimenting I finally vanquished the rat. A few rat free days later I noticed something new about the garden. It was coming to life in other ways. More birds, squirrels and little field mice were visiting the garden. It was like the villagers were coming out of hiding after the town bully had been run out of town.

Getting rid of the rats gave the rest of the garden the opportunity to flourish and come alive. It reminded me of the saying ‘hard choices, easy life’ and I also wasn’t aware of what lay dormant, just waiting to be unlocked when I made space. What a lovely surprise.

Clear out the rats and squirrels appear.

Breaking bread 

Sharing a meal with friends is an age old way to strengthen bonds and be in the moment with people you love. Cook, laugh, talk, savor the food, drink and bookmark the memory. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

Secure insecurity 

“Life is like a long and powerful river. From time to time, there will be some rapids. All you can do is ride it out. Resist or try to get back upstream, and you might drown. Stay calm and ride the waves, and the river will carry you to a safer place.” in The Wisdom of Insecurity by Alan Watts

Sticky Hands ­čľÉ­čľÉ and Reciprocation

Good partnerships thrive when the foundation is built on reciprocity. There’s a balanced give and take dynamic and mutual respect. At first glance that may sound selfish, because it’s not all “give give give”, but it’s not. You are at your best self when there’s a balance of give and take. If you are constantly giving and not receiving, then you’ll burn out and be filled with resentment. That’s a toxic and unhealthy place to be. Advocate for yourself, and balance the relationship.

A training exercise Kung Fu called Sticky Hands is an useful way to illustrate the importance of reciprocation. It teaches students to listen to their sparring partner, move with the flow of energy and then redirect it back to the source.

Try it: See yourself standing opposite your sparring partner. Both of you have your hands stretched out like stop signs touching each other’s palms. Your shoulders are relaxed with feet planted firmly on the ground. When you are balanced and “grounded” then even a hard shove won’t knock you off your feet. You may take a step back and re-balance, but you won’t fall over.

Now ask you sparring partner to start applying pressure. When you feel the pressure you either have to move out of the way or you have to respond. If you want to be in relationship with your partner then you have to stay on your feet and respond. So feel the pressure and follow it to understand the action and direction of power. Understanding the pressure will dictate your response. Once you’ve got a feel for the intensity and direction of the force then it’s time to respond. In a balanced way, maintain contact and redirect and manipulate it back to the source. Remember to maintain contact with your sparring partner. If you lose contact, or try to overpower your partner then the game is over.

Apply the same approach to conversations and day to day interactions. Stay mentally connected to the person you are speaking to. Be grounded and balanced. If you feel the pressure being applied then pause, feel for the direction and slowly redirect it back. Resist the urge to break contact or use brute force. It takes patience but it’s a worth it.