Friday, July 6, 2012

Waste Not, Want Not

I have a certain fondness for animals. Not just the cute and cuddly ones - I love them all. One of my favorites is the dung beetle. These prehistoric-looking little troopers spend their entire lives searching for, collecting, eating and living in dung. They even use it for reproducing. In fact, the beetle is so compelled by the odor of manure, he will fly up to 10 miles in search of just the right variety. Nature is a funny and surprising force, isn't it? If you've never seen a dung beetle rolling around his ball of waste, here's a little treat for you.

Like the beetle, people spend a lot of time pushing poo around.

Sometimes we are full of it, sometimes we talk of it. Sometimes we feel like it, and sometimes we have to take a lot of it. Our balls of poo might look different from what the dung beetle prefers, but they are no less smelly and noxious.  When we carry  around anger, resentment and grudges, we pollute the mental and emotional environment for ourselves and everyone in our vicinity. With our unkind words, gossip and complaints, we gum up the wheels of our minds and hearts, erecting barriers that keep true friendship and love at a distance. The thoughts we keep, the activities we participate in, the kinds of people we associate with, how we deal with adversity, as well as success - all of these things make us who we are and dictate our life's meaning. 

Sure, everyone has moments  when they are mired in their own version of a poo ball.  It's only natural and human to stumble and to fall. What matters is what we do after that fall. Do we stay down? Or do we look up, take a helping hand if we need it and stand up to continue on our path?

My daughter asked me recently how I deal with failure. I answered that I don't really see failure as a real thing. It's a label we make up in our minds. Instead, if I don't get the outcome I was working toward, I understand what actions and choices not to take in the future. I look at the so-called failure as an opportunity for learning and, sometimes, as a challenge that makes me a wiser and more determined person. In the school of life, the only real defeat is to stop learning.

And while the dung beetle's preoccupation with the stinky stuff benefits the world, we humans would do well to clear our lives of it. When faced with a "poo situation", I like to remember this little story about Thomas Edison. A reporter asked him how it felt to have failed a thousand times in his work of designing the light bulb. Edison replied, "I didn't fail a thousand times. The light bulb was an invention with a thousand steps."


  1. Hi Tamera you are right, mistakes or failures are stepping stones going forward and the only defeat is not learning from them. Thanks again so much your positiveness & this great story about our "poo situation" I really needed it!

    1. Wow, thank you! When we get mired in the poo, it's good to have people to remind us that we don't need to stay there. :)