Susan Neder

The Little Zen Giraffe

In Doing "Giraffey" Things on February 8, 2011 at 7:06 pm

The last couple of weeks at home have been quiet and healing – I am getting better slowly, but the old comedy sitcoms like “Mr. Ed” and “I Love Lucy” have helped distract me.

As I begin to feel better I am spending more time thinking about who I shall be now – how shall I be changed by this experience of having cancer? Of course, some changes are unavoidable, but what about deliberate choices of change? A different way of handling stress more effectively is certainly a good idea. This requires a calmer view of life, I think; a more “zen” approach, which is not easy to achieve if you are a “do-er”. As I look around for a role model to help me achieve this goal, I can’t help but think of a little giraffe at the Denver Zoo. I became very attached to this little guy and visited him often, before the weather in Denver turned so cold. He was in the habitat with a number of bigger giraffes, who were all doing “giraffey” things, like walking around, eating leaves, etc. He was over in a corner, near the front, with his back to the crowds, sitting quietly with his legs folded under him and his eyes closed. I decided he was clearly meditating. He sat very straight and opened his eyes from time to time, but mostly he just meditated (no, he was not snoring – he was being very “zen”!).

I noticed that nothing bothered him. The other giraffes, which sometimes got rowdy and had to be separated from the others, and were all much bigger than him; the other zoo animals growling and roaring in their habitats, not even the crowds of humans walking to and fro and pointing and talking and taking pictures seemed to bother him; he stayed calm and cool. How does he do that? He is there, participating, but staying objective and centered. He is not being drawn into the drama of life around him, but he sees it.  How many people do you know that could do that without the help of some sort of substance, natural or artificial? Not many, I would guess. I don’t know anyone who lives that way over a sustained period of time, unless they are withdrawn from everyday life, like a monk or a guru, which doesn’t really count in my book because the normal life stressors aren’t there for them. But what a great way to be in the world! To achieve that sense of calm and objectivity, which seems like it would bring wisdom in situations – now that is a goal! I am going to print out the picture of this little giraffe and put it on my mirror! I wonder if sitting on a pile of hay helps?

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  1. Wow! Now you have to share my hero worship of you with a giraff! We could all learn something from him. Be in the moment. Adore what you have at this instance. I love it. Orange, black and white are my new colors. How about you! Let’s wear it with pride in the hope that we can be zen-giraff like. We would also gain Audrey Hepburn necks. I’m in! Ohhmmm…

  2. Susan, i never knew what a talented writer you are. You really have a gift… i love reading your stories. Why not use that talent to write stufff…. i don’t know what kind of stuff.. i guess whatever is most fun for you to write about or just whatever is on your mind. you could help others who may be going through similar experiences, of asking similar life questions, but can’t quite put it into words, like you can.. you’re great… and such an inspiration!! love ya and glad i know ya, ya ya!… Susan Schmidt(dark hair,well, gray hair,well, my appointment is next week so i’ll be dark hair again!)

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