From my yoga mat under the copra roof, I watched the goat family come down the hillside to graze day after day. The youngest never strayed far from mom, bleating ‘bloody murder’ if she wandered off. When they’d would catch up to her, they’d shake their tails and wiggle with vigor under her belly, overcome with relief. The ‘teenagers’ would butt heads or go bounding out on appallingly precarious cliff edges without the slightest inhibition. The leader of the goat tribe, ‘Papi Chevre’ as I called him, (‘Grandpa Goat’ in French) cruised casually with an air of certain nobility, wearing two white stripes through his goatee and mane, contrasting against the black of his body. Mothers eyed their youngsters. Adult males nearly climbed trees and flattened brush in their relentless quest for foliage. A few chickens followed the herd, likely pecking at bugs and worms left exposed by the goats’ uprooting of plants and stamping of hooves.
Despite that they are NOT an endemic species to these islands and VERY destructive to native vegetation, watching these wild animals in action reminded me of each organism’s distinct genetic purpose. They were doing what goats do, without anyone telling them to—living wild and free in the hills. A goat is a goat, through and through, as much as a bee is a bee and we humans are human–each species on Earth so perfectly tailored to its distinct role. In that very moment, all over the world, millions upon millions of life forms were performing their innate duties, unknowingly but ingeniously expressing their ‘perfect wildness’. Each of them deserve basic respect, at least a habitat–a place to just be whatever it was–an ant or a bobcat or a needlefish, expressing it’s genetic purpose…so this idea of biological egalitarianism hovered in my thoughts…We didn’t always see ourselves so above and separate from other life?
I thought about the Polynesian animal ‘motifs’—the manta, dolphin, shark, whale, gecko, centipede, turtle, etc. These animals were once looked upon as brothers and sisters, as fellow spirits on a similar journey. Native peoples throughout history drew inspiration from the animals with which they shared their local environment. We don’t give much thought to it anymore, but I think knowing and being near them and respecting them feels right and so good for the soul! Becoming close to our ecologically diverse ‘neighbors’–be them skunks or lizards or earthworms–humbles us, puts our problems into the perspective of the biosphere rather than our own lonely universe, and helps remind us that we aren’t the only ones trying to ‘get things done’ here on Earth each day.