The Hundredth Monkey

The Japanese monkey, Macaca Fuscata, had been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years. In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkey liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant. An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers too. This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes. Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes — the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let’s further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes. THEN IT HAPPENED! By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough! But notice: A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea…Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes. Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind. Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people. But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone! From the book “The Hundredth Monkey” by Ken Keyes, Jr. The book is not copyrighted and the material may be reproduced in whole or in part. Read the whole book
The story of the 100th monkey has been bandied about and played with until some people have discredited it and discarded it. I don’t care if it’s true or not in the sense that it did or did not happen; it has become true in my head and my heart. I believe that when something reaches the event horizon, then it gets to that tipping point and then nothing can stop it.
I use the term Event horizon loosely; no one knows what’s at the other side of the black hole, after all. I believe that random acts of senseless kindness could change the world. I’ve been on the receiving end of them, of people doing wonderful things for me not because I deserve it but because they believe in me or because they happen to feel like it, or because it felt right at the time. J (see blogroll) did it for me when he helped me publish my book, using skills and courage I didn’t possess to get something rolling that otherwise would have remained a dream that died quietly in a corner somewhere. He did that for someone he hardly knew at the time.
I could also speak of the woman whose name I will never know now who sat with me during the dark hours of a hospital night after I tried to kill myself aged 19, who took the time to sit with me and listen and talk to me and change my mind and teach me that I had a chance to live, even though her life was far worse than mine and she had no hope of better. I never even knew her name but she saved my life and she was a STRANGER.
We are none of us meant to get through this life without kindness given and kindness received and the kindness of strangers is the purest there is, because it is given without thought of return. It’s given as a true gift of grace, with no ulterior motives.
But I am just one woman, with limited powers and energy and finance. What can i do? I can do the kindness of being a friend to those who need me and to strangers. I can take the time to be courteous, to give alms where I can. And when an opportunity come where I can let go of my own agendas and simply give to the world, I can trust that even my small efforts are not invisible in the grand scheme of things, that they will make a difference somwhere.
That woman in the hosptial will never know what a difference her kindness made to me in my dark time. I may never know what difference I may make to others. Neither are reasons for not doing it.
Myth or not, you might be the Hundredth Monkey. Go and make a difference

Badgers’ Bums



Enough of the gloom and doom already! It’s time to smile again.

This is all Chris Smith’s fault (You know who you are Chris), since he set me the challenge. I wrote on my Facebook status that I felt as rough as a badger’s arse, which on reflection was a bad move as I have had endless comments asking me how I know how rough a badger’s behind might be. Then Chris remarked about me writing a poem about it and here we are. Anyway, I hope it’ll put a smile on a few faces(you know who you are, too!)

For the record, I used to work as a warden on a nature reserve, and have more hands-on experience with badgers(bums and all) than most people, though I confess that only a fool would try to stroke a living, wild badger. All the badgers’s bums I have ever touched have belonged to deceased badgers, some of them stuffed and displayed in various places.

Badgers are mysterious creatures and until quite recently not a massive amount was known about their complex social structure because the majority of it was conducted underground. Some bright spark cottoned on to the idea of cameras in setts and we learned a great deal. Badger families are known as clans and are usually matriarchal. An extended family live together in a sett that can often have been used for hundreds of years, if not thousands. They are very clean animals, use purpose built latrines at a suitable distance from their homes and change their bedding daily. A great deal of time is spent on grooming and keeping their fur in order, especially during the long winters. They don’t hibernate but do become somewhat sluggish and inactive.

Badger sows are know to practice polyandry, that is to say, having more than one husband. The chief husband lives and shares the sett bedchamber with the sow, but she has a reserve younger male waiting in the wings, and at some point, the two males swap places. The older male carries on living in the sett and simply ceases to be the top male; it all seems quite amicable…. 

The badger is the largest remainding predator in the UK, being substantially heavier than the red fox. It has also the thickest skin of any animal native to the UK, which is a good half inch thick, meaning it’s also one of the toughest animals around, something that has led to the cruel practise of badger baiting.

I had the privilege many times of watching badgers in the wild, having them approach me to within a few feet, but never dared to put out a hand. They strike me a wise and sensible beasts but unlike otters which continue to play into adulthood, generally they are not playful after cubhood.

Anyway, nature lesson over. Here’s a simple bit of doggerel in honour of the badger and its not so rough bum:       

Rough Stuff?


Badgers’ bums are not so rough:

Trust me on this, I’ve stroked enough!

A badger who keeps his fur in trim

Ensures that no one laughs at him.

It’s not so smooth as kitten fur,

But that’s OK as they don’t purr:

They grunt and snort and sniff all night

And groom their fur so it’s all right.

A badger’s skin’s the thickest stuff

And sure, their fur’s not made of fluff,

But even if you need a shaving brush,

A badger’s fur should stay on its tush.

On reflection I start now to see

That some phrases that are used by me

Do not mean what I’d like them to,

So I shall invent one just for you:

Some things are rougher than a badger’s arse,”

Don’t ask me what, I’ll have to pass!




Moths to a flame(connections, chances and serendipity)

How did you get here? I mean, both in terms of HERE as in this blog and HERE as in this life. Please watch the youtube video below and return to this post:

I really enjoyed this little film, and found myself caught up in the story, but it made me think about a couple of things.

First, how did I get here? In the first instance of existence, I am here because my father knocked my mother down on a hockey pitch some time in the 50s, noticed each other(as you do when you collide) and things went from there. Here, as in my current geographical location, through a very complex series of events and near misses, and a million other Vivs in a million other locations in the multiverse went elsewhere. (If you meet one, can you ask her where I left my paperback copy of The Four Quartets; it seems to have fallen between universes…or behind the sofa or something? Thanks!)

But here on a blog? That’s down to stepping back from my previous activities and taking a break and seeing what filled the vaccuum. I found my way to the blog world almost by accident. I say “almost” because I don’t really believe in accidents; I believe more in synchronicity. How did I meet you, my various readers? Some I met through the blogs or websites of others, some I stumbled upon. Some stumbled upon me. However we met, I am truly grateful, because the odds AGAINST us meeting are much greater than the odds on meeting at all.

Like the letter eaten by a goat, so many things could so easily have gone astray. You might have followed a different link and ended somewhere else entirely. I know I met Mark through Stories without Words, which is now shutting down. Shiona I met through J…and so it goes on.

But the more I think about it, the more I feel that those who are meant to meet will meet, even if they miss each other several times on the way. My husband and I met through various circumstances, but neither of us had intended to be at the university we actually met at. If not then, somewhere else, a year or maybe more later.

Like moths to a flame in a dark wood, we are drawn to those who share our light and life and we will find each other.  Some day, if not today, then one day, we meet our kindred spirits and soul mates.

Thank you all.