Spirited Survivors

They say a cat has nine lives, one dog year corresponds to seven human years, and a lucky bat can survive for 38 calendar rotations. But a lowly tortoise has us all beat—Harriet, a native of the Galapagos Islands, died recently after 176 years on the planet. Tortoises in that part of the world are notorious for their longevity, but even among that venerable group, Harriet was an elder. (Coincidentally, she may once have been a companion of Charles Darwin, who first developed the idea of survival of the fittest.)

Harriet was born prior to virtually all of modern technology, before the nuclear bomb was created and preceding creation of the New York Stock Exchange. In 1830, most of the world had never even heard of Greenland—the melting of which shared a two-page spread with Harriet’s demise in a recent issue of the LA Times. Winter temperatures in Greenland have risen nearly 10 degrees in the last 15 of Harriet’s golden years, but the tough-shelled lady was blissfully impervious to all of this—at least as far as humans have been able to discern.

I wish I’d met Harriet. I have the feeling that sitting with this ancient crone, touching her and experiencing her energy field, would somehow help me better understand the mysteries of the universe. Anyone who has spent time around animals understands how closely humans are interconnected with the rest of the animal kingdom. It’s not just their external environment where we have an impact; we influence each other in positive ways as well. Any love sent between two creatures adds to the universal love account, on which we’re all signers and which can never be overdrawn.

Linda Tellington-Jones has pioneered exceptional ways to help our four-legged friends. If you read this magazine, you’ve almost certainly explored alternative healing methods for yourself. Tellington-Jones began using a form of healing touch on animals almost by accident. So successful was she, first with horses and then with cats, dogs and other pets, that she’s now codifying her technique for work on humans.

The Nukak-Makú tribe in the Amazon Basin predates even the Galapagos tortoise, and has been equally oblivious to modern “progress.” Dispelled from their Colombian rainforest home earlier this year, they made their way, barefoot and half-naked, across 200 miles to civilization. Accustomed to surviving as hunter-gatherers, when asked what they would do next, they could not comprehend the question. “The future?” they responded. “What’s that?”

After seeing Al Gore’s film, An Inconvenient Truth, many of us may be wondering the same. But despite the denial afflicting our federal government, the city of Los Angeles, while still lagging behind Santa Monica (which is heroically poised to pass a ban on all non-recyclable take-out containers, including Styrofoam) has resolved to run 80 percent of street sweepers on biodiesel. Kinda makes me proud to be an Angeleno.

Angelenos don’t have a monopoly on bold choices, however. If you read nothing else in this issue (and I, of course, encourage you to read every word!), please don’t miss Matthew Sanford’s story on pg. 50. Injured as a teenager in an automobile accident that took the lives of his father and sister, he dragged his paralyzed body around for years until he discovered yoga. If you think tree pose is difficult, try downward dog without having any feeling in, or control over, your body below the chest. But Matthew’s is more than just an amazing story about a disabled person who now teaches even able-bodied students; Sanford is an inspiring pioneer in the field of mind-body connection.

It’s great to hear what so many of you are thinking about our redesign. Please continue to let us know your thoughts—we want you to be happy! And if you’d like to take advantage of our free calendar listings, please get us your information by the first of the month prior to the month in which your event occurs. You’re doing great things and we want as many people as possible to be able to take advantage of them.

From my heart,
Abigail Lewis

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