Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Herd Moments...

After a leisurely breakfast of fresh hay, and cool shade under tall oaks, the camels meander off to graze and browse in small groups, or sometimes alone, coming and going as inclined and attracted.

Peaceful Baba heads off along the fence-line to where the watering hose runs under the wire and out into the lower paddock. Sitting down, he uses his mouth to retrieve the entire length of hose, foot by foot, dragging all of it back up onto his "lap", hoping the open end will be running with cool, fresh, bubbling water. Sometimes it is, this time not. And he sits there quietly, on the grass under the sun.

HiHo, eyes flickering with mischief and anticipation, bumbles over to the ranch truck to test the air pressure on all four tires!

The older Google Mama, herd matriarch, draws her calf away to a nearby tree where they sit together quietly. One of the other calves bounces over to Google and Barack, wanting to join their repose or to draw Barack into a game. The often accommodating Google Mama doesn't care for this distraction and deftly sends the young calf away, clearly wanting to spend some quiet time with her baby, apart from the herd. A few more times the frisky young calf, Green Smoothy, bounds back to the tree, pestering Barack and her mother, each time finding herself sent away.

Eventually alone Google Mama and her two month old calf, Barack, sit side-by-side, silent and motionless, gazing out across the pasture, immersed deeply in the "feeling of being". Both mother and daughter are intensely steady, deep and serious camels.


"Nothing" is close...

Gradually as I find my way in the training of these camels, I'm realizing that the best way forward with them is, largely, to do "nothing" -- just being with them. More and more when asked, "What do you do with these camels?" I find myself replying, "Nothing."

"Nothing" is not quite true, but it's close.

As old points of view, ideas, agendas and techniques erode, simply from being around the camels, my approach to them becomes more one of trust, respect, mystery, feeling and patience. This is them teaching me, showing me... And with this I find the camels entering into relationship with me much more readily. Interactions take on more of a flowing quality, where each camel in turn comes and goes within the herd to visit with me, and me with them. The more I manage to let go of wanting to control this process the more I find myself drawn in by them. When they are given the space to choose to do something with me, if they choose it happily, willingly, rather than feeling "trained", or conjured, into it, then the thing they just learned, or chose to do, be it wearing a halter, lifting a leg, sitting, lead walking, need never be learned again. Because they trusted my invitation, and because they chose it, they don't forget it, and it seems not to need further re-enforcement.

The less goal oriented and intentional my approach, the more the "results", if I want to call them that, become better and surer...

I see little signs of this every day, and we never go backwards -- unless I revert to what my teachers taught me back in school.


Becoming Untrained

When the now two month old calf, Barack, was in her first week or so she did a lot of sleeping, as new babies love to do. And in those moments I took to napping or lying with her. Sometimes I fell fast asleep too. Through sleeping together Barack and I formed a bond of trust that has made everything else we do together a secondary matter. If I stay true to this bond there may be very little she will be unwilling to do with me in the future -- and also, I think, requiring very minimal "training".

The lesson of Barack so far has been one of my "untraining"... becoming untrained through the force of relationship -- a great relief !