Driving through the entrance to Amboseli National Park, in southern Kenya, the vehicle was filled with suspense as we kept our eyes fixated on the green swampy landscape. And then, elephants. Wild elephants everywhere. The vehicle fell silent as we watched in awe the enormous gray figures swaying, ears flapping, tails swishing, tusks shining. Tears welling in our eyes in the euphoria of the moment.
Every single one of us had seen elephants in captivity at some of the best zoological parks in the world. But nothing, absolutely nothing could compare to seeing so many magnificent elephants living in the shadow of Kilimanjaro. Stoic creatures. Beautiful. Their flashy white tusks gave off an ethereal glow against the backdrop of bright green and blue sky. Tusks gleaming in the daylight, a source of their beauty and of their demise.
As we say goodbye to 2011, why not also say goodbye to making New Year’s Resolutions for 2012? Let’s face it, if you are one of the overwhelming majority of humans, and statistically speaking, you more than likely are, you won’t stick to the resolution anyway and this deviation from the plan can lead you down a path of self-destruction!
Russian psychologist Bluma Zeigarnik’s research from as early as the 1920s, showed that our subconscious is better at remembering our unfinished tasks than our completed ones. So, it might be better not to start a project if you don’t plan to finish. American psychologist Will Joel Friedman claims that being haunted by unfinished business prevents us from living in the present. This nagging of the subconscious actually moves our accomplishments to the back burner while the remnants of our resolutions move to the forefront, increasing stress and gnawing away at our self-esteem.
Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. This year when I reflect upon the life and works of Giovanni Francesco di Bernardone, one of the most venerated religious figures in history, I can’t help but think about an amazing man named Edwin Lusichi, the Head Baby Elephant Keeper at The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust in Nairobi, Kenya.
When we were kids, we were lucky. We got to pack up in the truck camper and go on vacation. Sometimes we would head northeast to Maine. We spent a couple of summers in Worcester, Massachusetts while my dad attended classes at Holy Cross. We went lots of places, and we would buy a decal for the back of the camper to commemorate each location we visited. The whole back right side of the camper was covered with the decals.
One of our neighbors told me that she used to watch us pack up and leave wondering where we were headed to that summer. She told me many years later how wonderful it was that we were able to travel as a family. We had two small dogs at the time, Maggie and Maxine. They of course went with us, we all piled in the back of the camper and off we went.
by Malia Ragan
It’s immediately identifiable by its signature yellow rimmed front cover paperback. For us baby boomers, it was our staple reference material to fulfill that footnote obligation at the bottom of that geography or science report we were required to write in grade school. Yes, there was no Internet or Google or even a Kindle when National Geographic came into existence in the late 1800’s. We had to walk five miles to the nearest brick and mortar building called a “library” to check them out. Or, if we were really fortunate, our parents had a subscription delivered, by another increasingly endangered species, called the postman. I know, it’s difficult for some of you to imagine. Wikipedia describes National Geographic as “formerly National Geographic Magazine”. What? National Geographic Magazine is no more? It’s been replaced by the acronym, Nat Geo? And you can now subscribe to it on cable tv? Get out….
Rancho San Gregorio is nestled in a canyon on the western slope of the Peninsular Ranges within the Vizcaino Desert and the Valle de los Cirios, a designated biological reserve on the Baja California peninsula. We drove from San Diego in what seemed like an eternity packed like sardines into a van with too many people and too many bags, with food, water and supplies. The road was more than a little rough and after many hours of being cramped up and tossed about , the road eventually came to an end, and our destination was before us.
After the jubilation of being free from the confines of the van, a feeling of uneasiness washed over me as I tried to get a feel for the surroundings and wrap my mind around what I was doing here in the middle of nowhere, literally at the end of the road.
The next morning at 6:00 am I find myself pouring a black cup of coffee in the hotel breakfast area. I sit down. 6:30…7:00…7:30. My shadow is a no show. I throw my Fage yogurt container away and head back to my room. My cell phone rings at 8:00 am. It is my shadow.
“Where the hell are you?” he snorts.
There is what I consider, a disturbing phrase that seems to be entering into conversations, and once I started to pay attention, it seems to me this phrase is pandemic. More often than not, right in the middle of a topic, someone will blurt out, “Our generation is hopeless, we need to educate the children. The children are our only hope to make a difference for tomorrow!” “We need to teach the children to care.” And most of the time, the discussion simmers down, followed by a collective sigh.