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Like a Capybara

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

My 12-year old and I were hanging out the other night. We didn't quite have time to watch a movie so I suggested we watch some cute animal videos on YouTube. We soon found ourselves watching an adorable capybara with an entire watermelon at its disposal. This was not a 3-minute video; it was a full 27-minute expose. Both Aidan and I agreed that we would watch the first few minutes and move on. Why would anyone watch an animal eat fruit for almost a half an hour?

Twenty minutes later, we were still glued to the video of this guy taking one small bite at a time and chewing each bite thoughtfully. We turned the volume on high so we could hear the nuances of its smacking as it munched on the rinds. We cracked up as it drank the juice from the middle of the melon and then looked up as the juice dribbled down its beard. I couldn't remember feeling so calm and satisfied in a long time.

Perplexed by the fact that we were still watching the video, I scrolled down to the comments. Reading them added to the strange hilarity of the moment. Of course, there were people who just thought this guy was cute. But a surprising number of comments reflected on the relaxing simplicity of this video. The capybara's eating was described as contented, thoughtful, present, concentrated and worry-free. Many wrote about how meditative and calming it was to watch the video. One person even commented that he turned to the video when he was experiencing a panic attack.

I know. We shouldn't look too deeply into this video. Why not go outside and contemplate an ant or squirrel in our own yard? The capybara was not in the wild and that should be cause for concern. But setting those issues aside, and acknowledging the gifts and dilemmas of our pervasive YouTube culture, I nonetheless offer this set of questions to contemplate:

When was the last time you "turned up the volume" to listen to the sounds around you? When did you last anchor yourself in the immediate feeling of calm, joy or warm heartedness that arose from simply being present? When did you last savor the taste of a bite of watermelon and let the juice spill down your chin?

As I write in Meeting the Moment with Kindness, slowing down is our first step toward mindfulness. Only then can we can pay attention, on purpose, to whatever is within or around us. I most certainly slowed down as I watched the capybara take one nibble of the watermelon at a time. I felt myself reconnecting to my breath and my body as I listened and observed. And I got to experience this moment of mindfulness with Aidan, who was just as surprised as I was that this was such a satisfying experience.

So perhaps you want to take a look at this capybara video which has been viewed 2.5 million times enjoying his mindful moments. Better yet, maybe this post will remind you to step outside, feel the cool breeze on your cheek, listen to the birds or take in the scents of fallen leaves and winter coming. It doesn't matter what you choose. You can be like the capybara any time you'd like. In a world full of so much noise, every mindful moment matters.

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