Even though your purpose is to catch a glimpse of something few people see by chance, a sight even fewer people set aside the time to seek out, failure will mean nothing to the world at large. Your co-workers, your partner, your children will never think less of you if your plans don’t materialize. Nobody at the Times, the Guardian–not even the Daily Mail–will be pounding on your door to snap a photo and later misquote you about the experience.
But success? Success is your reward for having chucked Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and voices and for not rushing home through an ass-tangle of traffic to your comfort zone. Success is your reward for ignoring every other zone of comfort in your life to be still and quiet, standing like a statue near a hole on an incline until you become swollen with the hope of seeing IT.
Yes, IT. What is IT?
Step outside. Night is falling. Your phone is in the car, and that’s okay. As you walk to the spot you’ve chosen, the sounds of traffic recede, and that’s a relief. There is just air and breath, inhaling, exhaling. If you wait long enough, quietly enough, cultivating stillness to your core, IT will come.
IT is a badger. You heard me: IT is a stupid, stripey, hole-digging, hungry, long-snouted, cripplingly shy badger!
No words or speaking. No looks from, no looking at, others. Nothing in your hands, only grass and Earth under your feet. This is just you surrendering yourself to the release of yearning, and the emptying of expectation from your being.
Badger-watching! Did you know this is a thing? It is. Well, it’s a thing in some parts of England, anyway. Badgers!
Days can be hectic. Things can go wrong. Systems can break down. Some days all of these things happen, other days none of them happens and life is just a punt on the river.
The badger doesn’t even want you to look at him! He lives six feet meters below the ground to avoid bumping into you! Yeah, six feet under! Just like your dead Uncle Dewey who never forgave you for telling Aunt Connie you saw him eating hot dogs and drinking beer one afternoon with that woman at Woody’s.
None of this matters while you stand still, breathing in, breathing out, feeling your senses sharpening to hear and see everything that moves or makes a sound.
Oh, and that badger you’re waiting to see? He’s cautioned his wife and kids and cousins and in-laws. He’s talked to the cops! He’s threatened to move to Greenland if people won’t stop bothering him!
The badger will come. You will see the badger. Or maybe he won’t come, and maybe you won’t see him.
That badger warns his drunk brother to please be aware of his surroundings as he goes out looking for food every night. He won’t let his mother poke her head through the hole of their sett, because HUMANS!
But the experience of seeing that one badger on that particular night under clouds or stars that will never look exactly the same ever again–you can’t strive for or arrange for or order that kind of thing online.