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The Fungal Insights - Thursday 18/10/12

There was once a young boy who, in his quest to leave childhood and become a man, embarked on a journey to foreign lands. During his travels he came upon a wise man. Seeking his wisdom the boy asked him many questions, the answers to which he thought would aid him in his endeavour. Instead, the wise man handed him a teaspoon filled to the lip with water.
The wise man passed the spoon to the boy and tasked him with walking the walls of the castle and returning the spoon to him with not a drop of water spilled.
With great care the boy did as he was charged and, after a great length of time, returned to the wise man. He dutifully returned the spoon to him and with pride announced that it was still full, not a drop had he spilled.
The wise man asked of him: "And what did you see on your travels?"
The boy was most confused and struggled to find an answer.
"Did you not witness, atop the walls, the vast horizon stretching beyond the sea? What of the Royal Breast Plate held in the Gatehouse inlaid with precious stones?
The inscription carved above the door to the armoury, what did it say?"
The boy admitted he had not seen any of these things. So the wise man sent him off again.
The boy returned, though this time it was with humility he returned the spoon, empty of water.
The wise man, seeing the boys dejection, imparted the lesson the boy desired.
"Though life may, at times, demand of you your highest level of attention, do not forget to pause, to reflect, to take in your surroundings and experience the wonders that lie all around you".

Today I was reminded of this story. Of late, life has not only demanded my attention, it has provided numerous distractions. Meanwhile, the season is rapidly changing. This little patch of woodland in which I dwell, has a fresh carpet of leaves as the canopy above melts away, and sunlight dapples through the branches.

This morning I ventured off the frequented path and crouched to take in the sights and sounds. As I glanced down, I was happily surprised to see a fresh pile of rabbit dung.

 Absent since early spring, it would appear the falling fruits have tempted my woodland companions back to my 'garden'. And closer to the pot!

My focus turned to tracking and I followed the trail, but my focus was soon diverted. For all about me, springing up from the detritus strewn upon the woodland floor, was a myriad and multitude of fungi. Another resounding truth was here, echoing through the trees. From death, comes life.

I am no authority on mushrooms, and until my other sources of nutrition expire, they will remain unharmed by my hand. But I will enjoy them and admire their forms, brief as they are.

So disturbed are we by our mortality, so far in denial of our temporary existence, we shy from this truth as much as we are able. Of course, the degree of affliction is not universal. Though I believe it fair to say that we 'westerners' are some of the worlds most sensitive. 'Anti-wrinkle' creams, the numerous pharmaceutical and medical projects, the vast industry built upon this common, deeply entrenched, and perpetuated fear. To even look old, to show signs of decay, is an embarrassment when once it was a badge of pride and honour, of wisdom and experience. So severe it has gotten, that we in the 'civilised' world lock away our elderly, hide our dead and do our best to avert our eyes from, to even acknowledge that, we too will pass.
In some individuals, just a picture, a passage of writing depicting or containing death, evokes a powerful and dark response.

It takes a sharp eye, but they are certainly there.
And so it is to my reasoning, that be a human a carnivore, omnivore or vegetarian, to shy from death, to denounce and condemn killing of prey is one of the greatest hypocrisies. It matters not what quarry upon which you prey, animal or vegetable, for it is an undeniable truth that if our existence is to continue, we rely upon the ending, the death, of another form of life. For it is from that 'form', that bundle of minerals and elements, that we derive our nutrition.
To mourn its passing is natural. On some level I believe all hunters do. Life is to be experienced, savoured and honoured. It is wanton destruction, what some would term 'needless' death that violates our morals and codes, that appalls our being.

Whilst I cannot vouch for every footfall, great care was taken where I placed them and to my knowledge, no mushroom was harmed in the making of this piece.

"I am the light that shines over all things. I am everything. From me all came forth, and to me all return. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift a stone, and you will find me." - The Gospel Of Thomas

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