Standing Still

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Running away is natural behaviour for a donkey faced with a threatening problem, just as it’s hard for any human to stand still in a scary situation; standing still isn’t ‘normal’ behaviour for an equine, and evolution hasn’t favoured those who stuck around and waited while a predator closed in. And yet, teaching a donkey to stand still, showing them, moving slowly with them, all this revealed that it they stand still, or don’t run away, scary things might stop.

I concentrate fully on my donkey, on what needs to be done to work together, to solve the problem. I don’t rush ahead. I start to mimic the donkey disposition, reach a state of calm void rather than hollow emptiness, a feeling that everything I have, everything I own or wear, all of it, equates to nothing.

I’m just concentrating with him, alongside him. There’s no past or future, just here and now, an absolute present. I’m simply there, naked like him: a donkey who wears no cloths, who has no money, who eats and drinks, who seems to take everything in his stride. I am what I am right there, nothing more, just a singular self. If you let yourself drift into that donkey world, taking simple little strides and slow deep breaths, calm reigns. Things happen with clarity, with simplicity, decisively — like eating dandelions.

— Andy Merrifield from The Wisdom of Donkeys pages 103-104

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