Spring morning with squirrel

It was a fresh spring morning, a bit cold, the sun shining over the trees. I arrived at the meeting place half an hour in advance and stood outside the gate in silence, looking around.

At some point a red squirrel approached jumping from tree to tree, saw me, looked more disappointed than scared, then resumed its jumping, climbing and watching around. I followed it with my eyes and ears (it made short scratch noises when its claws grasped the hollow bark of the pines) until it hopped away of my sight.

I quietly stood some more time, watching occasional little chirping birds. At some point Sabine’s car turned around the corner. She waved driving past me, and parked a little further down the street. There was still some time before everyone showed up. Sabine walked towards me and we greeted each other. She said that she drove past Andi walking, but didn’t give him a lift as she knew he prefers to walk. We basked in the light of the sun gently rising and enjoyed the moment of quietness before the start of the meeting.

Few moments after, Andi appeared at the end of the street. We smiled at each other and I watched him getting closer. Few metres from Sabine and me, he stopped square and watched intently up a tree. He mouthed to us: There’s a squirrel! and smiled while watching it hopping and running along branches. Sabine and I, who couldn’t see the squirrel, observed him with a slight smile. His awe and curiosity were so pure that he looked like a child.

When the squirrel jumped away of his sight, Andi turned to us with a big smile and walked towards us. We greeted each other with soft affection, as usual. In these occasions, I feel that we three are special to each other, as we have the same way of looking at the world with deep attention and admiration.

Source: Flickr

(inspired by this Tumblr post)

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On silence

I recently noticed that I start preferring moments of silent interaction instead of using words to explain my feelings (OK, this post excluded!).

Now I fully appreciate how people can share their feelings without words and sometimes even without gestures. Keeping each other in eyesight, or even sitting next to each other without eye contact. For a very verbalising person like me, it’s a big achievement, even a rediscovery of the time I was so young that I didn’t know any verbal language. I take it as a part of my work on observation step that comes before drawing. I feel I am getting the idea of how it is to be an animal – wordless, but not heartless. I come to appreciate when I share some time with close friends and we don’t feel the need to talk. I have fun stripping off the dialogues of some scenes of my daily interactions and get the rest (the rest! really?) of communication, sometimes in agreement with the words, sometimes not.

This picture comes from this post, from June’s blog “Chloe, the pony who wouldn’t”. I have enjoyed reading many of her accurate observations of her horses, interacting with each other and with people.

I chose to represent the content of this post with this particular picture, as I am reading a book about systemic pedagogy supported by horses (in German: Pferdegest├╝tzte systemische P├Ądagogik) from Imke Urmoneit (that book will get a dedicated post). She explains how horses communicate mostly with body language, something that human adults forget or consider less important that the verbal language. Horses answer to your body language, that is expression of sincere intentions, as opposed to verbal language: they can therefore make you notice an unconscious behaviour and let you address it, to help you becoming a more aware and balanced person. An example: while riding, you would ask the horse for more speed with a conscious signal, but unconsciously you are afraid of it. The horse will get both clues and will give precedence to the unconscious one, that makes itself clear with an increase of muscle tension. The trainer should help you spot this contradiction and suggest ways to understand and process your fear. You could do that yourself, too; but it’s a bit like getting yourself under surgery. Not impossible, but particularly challenging.

I even had the idea to suggest music lessons without extra words (if possible, none at all). I already experienced that it’s possible to play music with people I can’t talk with, because we have no common human language: verbal communication only helps when there is a technical quirk to solve quickly. When verbal language is available, it usually takes the lion’s share, and I sense that the actual feeling of playing together suffers from that, as it gets reduced to a technical challenge.

My goal is to use words with as much care as possible, so that they actually support my non-verbal communication instead of replacing it; in parallel, I aim to become more attentive to non-verbal communication of others.