It was a relatively cool morning on the tropical island of Koh Samui and Terrence the Bull found himself more comfortable than he could remember being in quite some time. There had been a rough sea warning and the tide and waves created a lovely breeze. The breeze coupled with the thick cloud cover resulted in a delightfully pleasant temperature.
For most of the year Terrence lived on a farm in the mountains with other animals where they had plenty of room to run and graze away from dangers like cars and trucks. It was now the dry season so the farmer who cared for Terrence moved him and his other animals to another pasture to graze for about one month of the year.
Their temporary pasture was closer to the sea and next to a busy road. Terrence enjoyed being by the roadside for he got to see the motorbikes, cars and passerby. Every now and then tourists would stop and take pictures and a few would even approach as Terrence had an obviously docile demeanor.
Although he was docile, Terrence was sometimes prone to bouts of hypersensitivity. During these bouts, Terrence could see, hear and feel forces and things that other animals and humans could not see. His hypersensitivity made him feel uncomfortable and as though he didn’t quite fit in at times. Over time, Terrence recognized that this quality made him unique and unlike any other bulls which was one of the reasons the farmer who was his caregiver loved him.
The farmer feared that during a bout of hypersensitivity, Terrence might stray and perhaps wander onto the road so for Terrence’s own protection the farmer had devised a simple leash system. The leash system consisted of a rope that ran through Terrence’s nostrils, back along the sides of his face and then held back behind his ears with another rope which was tethered to a nearby tree. Although the elaborate leash system looked painful and horrible it was not, for Terrence had been accustomed to it and recognized that it was there to protect him so it actually gave him some comfort. Additionally, it was only for a month or so, during the driest of the dry season that Terrence was tethered to trees along the coast of his island home and the farmer made certain to move Terrence to a different tree each day.
On this particularly beautiful and unseasonably cool day, Terrence was joined by a host of his other animal friends; two of which were his constant companions, Michael the Lamb and Becca the Flamingo. Michael the Lamb grazed nearby while Becca the Flamingo posed on one leg just in front of Michael.
According to animal geography, none of the three of them “belonged” there as they were not native to the island. Both Terrence and Michael had been brought from their farm on the mainland and while rumors abounded about how Becca had come to be there, none were true and none mattered. Only Becca knew the truth about her circumstances and in her mind the how and why were irrelevant. She knew that the reason she was there was because Michael, her one true love was there so there was nowhere else on the planet that she was supposed to be.
There were lots of other animals in addition to Terrence, Michael and Becca who lived in the lush patch of greenery by the side of the main road; hundreds of butterflies, mosquitoes, bees, flies, ants, centipedes and millipedes from the insect world; snakes, skinks and geckos represented the reptilians not to mention, cats, dogs, squirrels and birds of many types all called this pasture their home and lived harmoniously.
Terrence, Michael and Becca were probably the most notable of the animals because they were an unlikely trio. The unlikely trio was in an unlikely place by the side of the road on an unlikely cool day on the island when two men in a pick-up truck stopped next to them on the shoulder of the road.
The men stepped out of the truck holding long metal sticks with wire hoops on them; a type of lasso. Terrence, Michael and Becca were accustomed to people as there were many tourists on the island at any given time and it was not unusual for people to stop. Terrence’s girth alone gave people pause and coupled with Michael the Lamb’s irresistible cuddly appearance and Becca the Flamingo’s striking beauty, the roadside make-shift pasture became a mini-zoo of sorts and curious onlookers frequently stopped to gaze at them or to take photographs.
It also was not unusual for folks to stop by with tools as there were many coconut trees which lined the side road next to the pasture and the locals often stopped by to pick coconuts. However, the tools the men from the pick-up truck were carrying did not look like any Terrence, Michael or Becca had previously seen so they watched with curiosity as the men made their way towards their island pasture. The trio observed the humans’ movements cautiously although it was apparent they were not there to photograph them or even to look at them. The animals also did not smell the fear that they had often smelled on so many tourists.
The ability to smell fear is important to animals perhaps because fear is often associated with unpredictability. Most humans cannot accurately predict what they will do in the face of fear or danger so because humans are unpredictable in that state, it is important for animals to be able to detect the scent of fear so that they can protect themselves if necessary. Animals protect themselves in the same ways that humans do – fight, flee or freeze.
If an animal fights or attacks, aside from for food purposes, usually it is acting to defend itself or to defend its family or territory from a real or perceived threat. Humans do this as well sometimes with words and sometimes with actions. More often than not the human fight response is triggered by a perceived threat as most of our everyday lives are not typically filled with as many real dangers as those in the animal kingdom. Regardless, the fight response can make frightened people and animals into dangerous people and animals.
Most animals will opt to flee using whatever mode of motion they have available to them; running, flying or jumping to escape something that threatens them. Human do this as well, often running away from or avoiding a person, place or situation that they perceive as threatening simply because it is new or unfamiliar. Sadly, many people shy away from people who do not look, speak or act like them.
Some animals freeze instead of fighting or fleeing. These animals have been given the gift of camouflage to help them survive their surroundings because perhaps they are not big enough to fight or fast enough to flee. They can stand or sit perfectly still for extended periods of time and either change their coloring to match their surroundings or they are already naturally the same color which prevents them from being detected by predators.
Some humans are this way as well. They freeze and say nothing and do nothing when they feel threatened. For some it is the way their bodies automatically respond so their muscles would not move even if they wanted them to and for others, they have learned to freeze as a result of this behavior effectively keeping them safe from harm or out of the line of fire.
Back in the island pasture Terrence, Michael and Becca did not detect any fear emanating from the two humans with the lasso-like devices so they continued their activities with only a passing interest. After just a few minutes of the men’s arrival Terrence heard rustling and saw Cora the Cobra slithering over to him. Cora the Cobra had been sleeping peacefully with her babies in the nest she had painstakingly and lovingly built in nearby hole covered with sticks and leaves.
“Terrencccce” Cora hissed in a whisper. “Those men are looking for my babies and me.” Terrence did not want to draw the men’s attention so he said nothing but made eye contact with Cora so she knew he was listening. Cora continued: “I’ve seen those tools before. When my brothers and sisters were young and lived up in the mountain, men came with tools like that one day. My mother gathered us up and directed us to follow her quickly. My father and oldest brother stayed behind to distract them while we went away – it was the last time we saw them.
My mother said the men had taken them to be performers in the snake zoo. We heard from other animals about the treatment of the snakes there. We were told that the snakes there were given drugs so humans could do shows with them and hold them and force them to do all sorts of tricks. I have heard this is also the case at the tiger zoo, the elephant safari and the monkey zoo. Our family and others like ours were ripped apart; not by a natural disaster like a flood or famine, nor by disease or accident but for the sole purpose of human entertainment so that tourists could take pictures and go home and tell all of their friends that they had seen “real live” wild animals.
My mother raised us as best she could but there were six of us and we were growing and hungry and mischievous so in the end we were left to fend for ourselves. My mother spent most of her days trying to mend her broken heart from losing her husband and eldest son. Mother molted for the last time that spring and by that summer she made the transition back to the spirit world.
My brothers and sisters and I discovered a monastery on the mountain during our journey from the North to the East Coast of the island. We spent a good bit of time at the monastery so we understand the concept of anicca. We know that nothing is permanent and have accepted the death of our loved ones as part of the cycle of life.
We also learned about loving kindness meditation, self-forgiveness and compassion at the monastery. We have been able to forgive the zoo people who took our father and brother and broke apart our family as we understand that they probably have families of their own that they take care of and protect.
When we arrived here on the East Coast, we met mates and started our own families. We have instilled the values of mindfulness into our offspring and have managed to not only co-exist but to thrive with all of the other animals and with the humans who live nearby here as they also practice mindful awareness. We have lived here happily, peacefully and respectfully for many years.
I can’t imagine any of my kind happily mating and producing snake babies in captivity so the humans have been forced to continue to capture new snakes. It appears the island is quickly becoming a popular vacation destination so there is a lot of construction happening and new hotels being built to accommodate all of the new tourists, especially on the Northern coast where the snake zoo is.
All of the snakes who lived in the North, like us, migrated to other parts of the island if they were not captured. This must be why the men with the lassos are here; there probably are not any snakes left to capture over in the North so they are expanding their search to other parts of the island. Terrenccce, I survived these humans ripping apart my family once but I don’t think I have the strength to survive it a second time and I will do whatever it takes to keep my babies safe from harm.”
Terrence knew exactly what Cora meant. Cora’s first instinct, like most animals, is to flee but faced with the need to protect her babies, Cora would fight. Terrence saw her display once when her babies were just eggs in the nest where Cora kept vigilant watch for three months and ate nothing except for rain water the entire time. An oblivious tourist wandered by a little too close to the nest for Cora’s comfort and Cora stood up five feet off the ground with her hood spread and mouth open and growled like a dog. Cora’s venom could easily have killed the human if he had not heeded her warning and fled.
While Cora was sharing her family story and fears with Terrence, Michael and Becca had gradually made their way closer to Terrence because although to human eyes Terrence still looked cool as a cucumber, his energy had shifted and Michael and Becca could feel it in the air on the other side of the pasture. They knew that something was happening although they did not know precisely what that something was. They were close enough that they could hear most of Cora’s story and they, like Terrence, stood casually so as not to alert the snake trappers.
Hearing this information did indeed shift Terrence’s energy and put him into a hypersensitive state. Michael could feel the shift because he and Terrence were very close. Michael was one of the kindest souls ever to walk the earth and he and Terrence were born within a year and a half of each other on the farm on the mainland. They always played, fed and talked together. Terrence trusted Michael with his thoughts and his fears and considered Michael to be his brother. They shared a close bond and Michael never let Terrence down. If ever Terrence was feeling hypersensitive he would let Michael know and Michael would stay close-by until the feeling passed so that Terrence felt safe.
Michael met Becca when he and Terrence arrived on the island. Both Michael and Terrence agreed that Becca was the most spectacular being either of them had ever laid eyes upon. Becca stood upright with a regal posture and the variations of pinks and corals of her feathers was positively mind-boggling. Neither one of them knew that so many shades of the same color existed in nature.
In addition to being beautiful, Becca had a very kind heart and calm manner. Michael fell in love with Becca the moment he saw her but he was slow to show her how much because he did not want to frighten her away. Michael slowly started visiting Becca more and more at her place by the lake near the farm on the mountain and eventually they pled their love to each other. Terrence approved and loved Becca like a sister.
It is within this circle of love between these three creatures that Cora the Cobra shared her story. Terrence, Becca and Michael knew each other so well that they had discarded the use of language and could simply sense what the other was feeling in their energy and by the looks in each other’s eyes. The three made eye contact then Terrence looked at Cora the Cobra and nodded.
Terrence motioned with his head for Cora to go back to her nest. Cora was a tough cobra who had seen a lot of adversity in her life and she was not one to back down from an altercation but when she looked at Becca and Michael and they both nodded agreement for her to do as Terrence had motioned, Cora followed the silent orders and slithered quietly back to her nest.
Terrence the Bull’s entire body started vibrating with the intensity of emotion he was feeling. Michael the Lamb stood directly in front of him and locked eyes with him to reassure him that everything was going to be fine and that no matter what he would always be there for him. Michael inhaled and exhaled slowly and loudly so that Terrence could match his breathing momentarily and find his own breath. They had been doing this breathing exercise since Terrence was a young calf on the mainland so they now automatically fell into a relaxed breathing pattern. Terrence’s body still vibrated but it was now a gentle vibration.
While the breathing exercise had commenced between Terrence and Michael, Becca had made her way around the other side of Terrence where she was hidden from the view of the snake trappers. Becca began feverishly but precisely working to untie the knots in the ropes that held Terrence. She used her beautiful black beak which was very sharp at the end as it was used for fishing to separate the knots little by little. She then used her lovely pointy talons to pull the knots apart.
The knots were tight and Becca’s talons sustained a bit of damage but it was a small price to pay to save Cora the Cobra’s family from destruction and to prevent Terrence from harming himself. At last Becca was able to untie the knot that held the rope leash to the tree. She then delicately removed the rope from Terrence’s nostrils as to not hurt him, gave him a kiss on the forehead and then both she and Michael moved back about 10 feet.
Terrence turned his whole body directly toward the snake trappers who were on the other side of the field and stomped his front hoof three times on the pasture floor. The men looked up towards Terrence and for the first time since their arrival, human fear was smelled by all of the animals there. One of the men ran as his body’s reaction to danger was to flee.
The other man stood still and for a quick second it was difficult for most of the animals to be able to tell if his fear response was to fight or freeze. Terrence knew the snake trapper was a fighter. Terrence’s hypersensitivity allowed him to feel the man’s movements before he even made them. Terrence could smell the cortisol and adrenaline rushing through the snake trapper’s body and feel the man’s nerve impulses going to his muscles instructing them to move into fighting position.
In Terrence’s vibrational hypersensitive state, he was able to move very quickly and lightly and in fact after just two steps of strolling, Terrence had levitated and was standing face to face with the snake trapper. The snake trapper never even had time to reach for his weapon or move into a fighting stance before Terrence was standing right in front of him.
Terrence’s normal color was a slate gray but his color changed whenever he had a vibrating episode. His tone would first subtly change to muted gray-blues and gray-greens and as the vibration intensified the colors would grow more vibrant. Terrence’s pallor would flash through all the colors of the rainbow until finally at the apex, when he was at full vibration, he would turn a bright, almost blinding angelic-white color. This is the color Terrence now was as he stood nose to nose with the snake trapper whose body was screaming for him to fight because it registered danger but something about Terrence’s presence and the light glowing off of his gigantic white body calmed the snake trapper’s mind and relaxed his body.
As Terrence stood in front of the snake trapper, his gentle vibration emanated waves of love, forgiveness, compassion and kindness. The snake trapper saw that he was defenseless against this giant being not just because of his stature but because of the immensity of his spirit. In Terrence’s vibration the snake trapper could see what he had been doing with the snakes was wrong and he wept because he felt guilty and ashamed for what he had done and for how he had destroyed the snake families.
In the light in Terrence’s eyes the snake trapper saw his own family and how devastated he would be if they were separated and ripped apart. He had always mistakenly believed that the snake zoo was the only way he could feed his family but now in Terrence’s light he saw another way and forgave himself for his acts committed in ignorance. He saw that he had had choice all along which lightened his heart and he felt free for the first time in a very long time.
In the clarity of the freedom the snake trapper got an inspired idea! He did truly love snakes and knew a lot about them and the island which he and the snakes inhabited. He saw his path very clearly now in Terrence’s light and decided to start a company that would take tourists on tours to see snakes in their natural environments – no drugs and no tricks; a snake eco-tour! The snake-loving man bowed to Terrence in gratitude for reflecting his actions back to him and for reminding him that freedom was the awareness of choice. The man then walked back to the truck with a huge smile on his face, a calm heart full of love and a mind free from worry and fear.