Since I was a little girl I have always cared deeply for the welfare of animals, but only within recent years have I seen how important it is for me to honor that to be happy. I wish I could spend every day of my life working to help animals so I do spend much of my free time volunteering to help them.
When I was younger I doubted that I could handle taking care of sick animals. It hurts me so deeply when an animal is in pain. I’ve learned though that it is because I care so much that this is something that I need to do. Although working directly with animals can be stressful and even sad at times, overall it fills me up with joy and purpose. I’ve found a deeper connection to the world around me and who I am as an individual. You learn a lot about yourself when you volunteer for something that means something to you on a fundamental level.
There is nothing better than releasing a wild creature back into nature.
When I first started this a friend of mine asked me if I was sad to let go the cedar waxwings I had raised week-in week-out. Without hesitation I told my friend that it was not sad at all. In fact it was one of the happiest moments of my life (which brings tears to my eyes as I write this) to see them fly into the bright blue sky, twisting and turning, calling to each other…freedom. They were free and happy and alive because of me and other people that worked hard to make sure they were fed and clean and had proper medicine.
A few weeks back I was able to be at the release for a heron that I had helped raise from the time it was a tiny fluff ball. It came in when I was working and so it was especially wonderful to see it go home…although he/she (we don’t know if it was male or female) didn’t get far. He found a great place to hide straight away.
Animals that have an indomitable spirit to survive are to be revered.
I am inspired by their will to live. While not all make it, it touches something primal and universal when you work with animals and helping them survive. There is something about escape artist house sparrows that while it drives you nuts when they get out it feels good to know something so little can have so much fight. Then there are the squirrels that come back time and again to steal the seed. They know we are soft and won’t harm them.
And sometimes you have to work hard to give them the spirit to go on.
To be honest it is very emotional trying to get something to eat or making sure it is pooping, but something kicks in…a calmness and urgency. There are few happier moments than seeing an animal improve after your care. Knowing that your attention is helping in a very real way is probably why people become doctors…at least one would hope.
It is one way to connect to the world that makes sense to me.
While there is nothing wrong with meditation in the more traditionally thought of sense, I find that actively doing things like running, yoga, and helping animals are meditation to me. There is mindfulness in wildlife rehabilitation that rivals little else in my life. While it can get hectic in trying to make sure all creatures are being cared for I started from the beginning making sure that even if it is at the very end of the shift that I take a moment at least to soak up what a pleasure it is to see up close these magnificent creatures and help them heal.
I truly hope I am always able to help animals. Through wildlife rehabilitation I’ve learned more about them and am humbled on a regular basis with how much I need to learn, but no matter what I am doing good in a way that resonates with who I am.