Lessons # 2 / August 2012
Animal Tracking and Changing Perspective
Animal tracking is very exciting. My Native American teachers taught me that every track reveals up to 4,000 different pieces of information about the animal that made the track. Tracks can tell us the sex of an animal, whether the animal has recently eaten, if the animal is still able to bear young ones and so forth.
Some of these signs are easy to “read”, such as, the sex of deer. Deer make a track that has a “V” shape (most of the time), the result of its split hoof. When a deer walks, its back foot doesn’t quite fall into the exact spot of the front track. Instead, it will be a little to the outside of the front track (meaning further from the body of the animal). Or, the track will be to the inside of the front track meaning that it will be slight closer to the body of the animal. If you spot a deer track where the back foot falls to the outside of the front foot, it means that you are looking at the tracks of a female deer whose hips are wider than a male for the purpose of giving birth.
But, the lesson for this installment is the benefit of changing perspective. You see, if you attempt to look at any tracks with the sun behind you and the track in front of you — you may see 10% of the track. You may not see anything at all. But, if you step around the track, placing it between you and the sun, all of its detail pops out as clear as day! How is this possible? Shadows. With the sun in front of you, the light hits the track’s ridges and troughs making distinct shadows.
And the next time you find something in your life or in Jewish tradition that just doesn’t make sense, step around to the other side, pull a 180, and look again. You might be surprised at what you find.