Monday, March 24, 2008

P4E.063 Predator Patterning

(The 2nd in a series on predator patterning)

Horses perceive almost any unusual circumstance as threatening. A horse's instincts tell it that humans are predators who want to harm it. For the most part, humans do act like predators around horses and so their fears are justified. If it is true that men are patterned as predators and this is behavior that we want to change, then it's important to understand what the patterning is and how we can interrupt it.

So, what characterizes predators?
Technically, predatory behavior is that which results in the killing of another animal for food. It is aggressive violence for the purpose of satisfying the physical need for survival.

Excellent Senses
Predators have excellent sensory perception to locate their prey. For example, many predatory birds possess keen eyesight and some, like owls, possess superior hearing to locate their prey. Predators are very capable of singling out young, old, weak or sick individuals in a group of prey and separating them from the group.

Speed and Camouflage
Predators use superior or unusual physical capabilities to capture their prey. Many predators are very fast and use their superior speed to capture their prey. Cheetahs, falcons and dolphins are examples. Some predators can physically disguise themselves from their prey, allowing them to get close enough to strike. Some sea creatures can make themselves look like the surrounding coral in order to snap up a fish passing by. Other predators, like lions, use stealth to creep up on their prey un-noticed.

Eye placement
Predators typically have their eyes on the front of their head, facing forward. This is in contrast to many prey animals whose eyes are on the sides of the head, looking out to each side of the head.

Many predators act alone, but some, like wolves, act in groups.

Start Early
Usually, adolescents and adults attack prey.

Efficient Killers
Predators are very efficient in hunting their prey. Predators are straight-line thinkers. They are aggressive, direct and unwavering in the pursuit, capture, killing and consuming of their prey. Predators have the physical capability to kill their prey, once captured, using sharp beaks or teeth and talons or claws or other means of killing their prey. They instinctively know that the neck is a point of weakness in their prey and attack that point to bring their prey down and kill it quickly. This is where the phrase "going for the throat" came from. Another weak point is the belly.

Predators develop separately, but may live in the same or adjacent habitats as their prey.

Most species are potential prey for other animals at least some time in their lives. Predators usually eat other animals. Many prey are vegetarian.

Predators are typically fewer in number than their prey.

Some men relish the thought of being perceived as a predator and others are offended by it. Next time we'll discuss prey patterning. I know these are unusual posts because they are coming in parts. I hope they start to make some sense when taken as a whole.

Peace, Kim

Thursday, March 13, 2008

P4E.062 A Rat in a Maze?

(The 1st in a series on predator patterning.)

In the early evening gloom.
Impaled on my wall
My eyes can dimly see
The pattern of my life
And the puzzle that is me.

From the moment of my birth
To the instant of my death,
There are patterns I must follow
Just as I must breathe each breath.
Like a rat in a maze
The path before me lies,
And the pattern never alters
Until the rat dies.

And the pattern still remains
On the wall where darkness fell,
And it's fitting that it should,
For in darkness I must dwell.
Like the color of my skin,
Or the day that I grow old,
My life is made of patterns
That can scarcely be controlled.

Patterns, by Paul Simon

I've been deeply affected by some of what my wife, Gwen, is sharing about what she's learning about "natural horsemanship." To give credit where credit is due, we are learning about these things from Monty Roberts (considered by many to be "the" Horse Whisperer), Clinton Anderson and last, but not nearly least, Pat and Linda Parelli and their colleague, Dr. Stephanie Burns. These people have studied horse behavior and human behavior and are promoting a more natural, non-violent, approach to the relationship between the two. There's also a man named Cesar Millan who has earned a reputation as the "Dog Whisperer." These people have broken the code so that we humans can understand and communicate with horses and dogs. As unusual as it may sound, much of what we are learning about the relationship between humans and horses cross-references to husbands and wives. I consider my mentor, Ken Nair, to be the "Wife Whisperer." He's written a book called "Discovering the Mind of a Woman," that is a classic in breaking the code of communication and understanding between husbands and wives. All of these wonderful people have identified patterns in human and/or animal behavior that have been key in helping to understand and communicate one to another.

When I'm in counseling, a large part of what my counselor does is to help me to become more sensitive to and more self-aware of patterning that exists in my life. Some of the patterning has led to strengths, but other patterning has led to "areas of concern." That patterning was established by many factors. Genes, environment, parental upbringing, siblings, birth order, gender, epochal events, age, peers and other things influence the patterns of my life. Becoming self-aware of these patterns is the first and extremely important step in benefiting from the counseling.

I'm starting to believe that an important part of what Christ is looking for in me (since I am His and He is mine) is behavior modification. A more spiritually natural, non-violent approach to my relationships with my wife, my children and others around me. Changing the way I think, act and talk. A part of behavior modification is recognizing the patterns in my life that cause areas of concern and interrupting them. It's called "pattern interruption."

Am I a rat in a maze whose pattern never alters until the rat dies? God help me, I hope not. More to follow...

Your ally in the pursuit of Christlikeness, Kim

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

P4E.061 Extending Grace

It seems wretched to think that one of the first times I was self-aware enough to consciously remember extending grace was only a couple of years ago when I was 49.

One morning, a couple of summers ago, I took my pickup in to the local dealer. Debi was my service advisor. I told Debi that there were three things that I wanted them to do. First and foremost, I said, was to re-charge the air-conditioning. It was the beginning of the summer and the refrigerant in the a/c must be low, because it wasn't cooling at all. It also needed an oil-change and the transmission fluid needed to be checked because the transmission seemed to be slipping a bit. But, that a/c was top priority because it gets really hot where I live. Debi understood, took my information and told me she would call me back when the truck was ready. She never did.

At the end of the day, I returned to the dealer. I waited in line for some time. When it was my turn, Debi said to me, "Well let's see, we were able to change your oil and we drained and refilled your transmission fluid. The one thing we couldn't get to was your air conditioning." Thinking back on it now, Debi strikes me as someone who had dealt with "the public" for some time. It seems to me now that her voice, posture and delivery were set to receive an attack for not addressing the critical repair issue that I had brought the truck in for. I'm sure that was what she was used to and, frankly, it's what I was used to delivering.

Because I had been in pursuit of being more Christlike, I paused. It gave me a chance to make a choice between anger and understanding. My wife, Gwen, used to tell me that I was making a choice to be angry. I never believed her. My excuse was, "this is just me. It's who I am. I can't change. Do you think I want to be angry?" A counsellor once pointed out that I must be getting something positive out of being angry. It was one of the reasons I stopped going to her soon afterwards. Let's just say I've changed my mind.

I said to Debi, "You know what? That's OK. I'll just bring it back another time." The look on her face was worth the price of swallowing my anger. It was a look of disbelief. A curious "What planet did you come from?" kind of look. She gave me the paperwork and I went to the cashier's window to pay for the oil and transmission fluid change.

I went outside and sat down on a bench to wait for my truck to be brought around. And waited....and waited some more. It was still hot outside. Self-pity wanted to come around. It wasn't going to be any better in that truck. Anger tried to bubble-up. Ungratefulness was crouching like a lion, ready to pounce. As I sat in the heat, the thought that I was justified to claim my "right" to expect better service than this trickled out like the perspiration on my brow. I physically shook my head and metaphysically shook my spirit to dispel them all. I took a deep breath and thanked God that I had a truck.

Debi returned to me, smiling and saying, "Kim, I have good news for you!"
"Yes, when I went 'round to get your truck the mechanic was looking for the paperwork. He told me that he had just finished repairing the air conditioner, so you're all set."
"Wow, that's great. OK, let's see, I'll go in and pay for it then."
"Oh no no. This was our mistake. You've already made a trip to the cashier. It's on us."
I didn't argue. I thanked her and drove off in my cool truck.

It grieves me to think of all the "tests" I've failed throughout my life. To think of God patiently trying to teach me to be forgiving and gracious, like Him. Yes, I do still get tested and yes, many times I fail. But sometimes, I slip up and do something right. I'm praying to God that He gives me the strength to extend more grace and forgiveness as the time is right. And it always is...

Peace, Kim