Why a Real Table is a Kind Table:
Learning to Protect the Vulnerable

This is how otters eat, in the water like this, they even bring each other treats and then they turn themselves around in the water to wash off drippings as they eat, it is the cutest thing to watch. But its more than that that draws me to the otter's "table". I have a picture of an otter couple similar to this one that i see every morning since its in my bedroom. Im not a knick knacky picture hanging person usually, so its up becuase its really means something to me. I look at it and i think "realness".

When folks say they want to be around realness, especially "real people" they can mean different things. To me, i mean what i see in this picture, which i'll get into later. And to some realness means honesty and directness, which feels really on target also. But some think realness, "real people", is this sort of thing--walking around reeking of toxic perfume or fabric softener fabric softener or with a cigarette hanging out of the mouth, having a house that lives in a cloud of toxic roomspray and hairsprays, a stereo that gets cranked regardless if it disturbs others or not, a car that leaves a cloud of exhaust and hasnt been upkept in years, a backyard whose fumes travel over to the neighbors, fumes of cigarettes or bbqing or burning ones trash...regardless of whether this makes yiur neighbor ill or not. These are "real people" folks say, "normal" people...those who harm the planet and those sensitive simply by the way they live their day to day lives, and who will ignore or make light of you (or even worse) if you let them know they are hurting anyone. Those who dont think before they act at the impact they will have upon others, who just do as they please and consider that uncaringness about their impact just "normal".

This kind of "realness" and "normalness" has come to mean inconsiderateness when it comes down to it, a detached and supposedly "live and let live" attitude of not caring about our impact. Wwhat it really means is let me live as i please whether it prevents you from living safely or not. And this is NOT what realness means i feel.

If you look at some Native cultures (the Inuit of the Arctic, the Aborigines of Austrailia etc), they call their people "The Real People". I think limiting this label to your own little tribe or race is extreme arrogance honestly. But the sentiment behind it, if applied more broadly, well it feels to really hold something core. It came into use i suspect becuase these cultures in their earlier stages were watching other cultures do alarming things to one another, such unkindness to both one another and to the earth with a growing materialism and pollution and detachment and the like. They so were right to think folks were dangerously losing their realness (but not right, i feel, to think that they alone kept it). This area, its not limited to a culture this is the human story...there are not some cultures who are real and some who are not, we all have realness and in so many ways we have all quite dangerously lost or hidden our realness.

For realness, what is it? Things come to mind like directness, essentialness, coming from the center, the heartbeat of things, the heart. And going deeper, underneath it all.... is kindness. Realness, i feel, is kindness.

And kindness, it is being mindful and caring enough to have a healing rather than harmful impact upon both others and our earth.

My favorite song qoute of all time is from Jewel (from Hands): "In the end, only kindness matters". I think it is the truth, its basically another way of saying the greatest commandment i feel. I think our kindness and our realness is one in the same. And so when i see those little otter eyes looking back at me when i wake up in the morning, it heartens me, reminds me there is still realness out there even when i am surrounded what feels anything but.

I see realness in those otters eyes, in the little squirels outside my window, in the little bluebirds on the fence. Not that nature never inflicts pain, it does, there is hunting after all. But it is out of survival, not out of just blatently disregarding ones impact upon another. In the human world, so often its the latter. We are supposed to be even deeper than nature in our realness and kindness but instead we are progressively less so. We know for instance the impact of toxins and pollution and the like, but becuase it only blatently affects some (others the effect is more subtle) we still do it anyway. That is not kind. That is not realness. "Real" people think before they act, and care if they find out something they are doing causes harm. Realness, kindness, is protecting what is easily harmed and vulnerable especially. We surely havent applied this to how we live.

As someone who lives with chemical sensitivity (EI) for example, i live with the results of that lack all the time. Those with EI are more vulnerable to the toxins of modern living--the "normal" stuff like smoking or bbq fumes or car exhaust or chemical perfumes (and chemical perfumes are in SO much, in almost all our cleansers and fresheners and shampoos and soaps and laundry supplies and the like, and truly make some very ill, see
here, here and here). Folks more sensitive here are more vulnerable--and not protected. Instead they are disregarded or even made fun of when they are deeply harmed by these things and made ill, instead of helped or this harm being prevented. And its not kindness, its not realness.

And if you are perhaps thinking dear reader that "well at least that doesnt affect me really", consider this: those who are more sensitive to things are simply the canaries... those impacted first, and with less needed to impact them. As toxins build it will effect everyone more and more. Weve already seen some of that of course, in both the human and natural world. And yet it still continues. It is not kind.

And its not just physical stuff its emotional stuff. Kindness is realness, there too. So... how can we bring this all to the table?

The thing is, the table is where it all meets i think. It feels to me the hub of things, what happens there ripples out. Arguments at the table...arguments in the world. Waste at the table...waste in the world. Unhealthiness at the table...unhealthiness in the world. The table holds more here than we think. If we are personally good to one another at the table, knowing we are truly loved, then that ripples out. If we choose our food for the table with not harming in mind (just minimizing packaged stuff for example has a huge impact there) then that ripples out. How we prepare our food too (not polluting the air with smoke by bbqing etc), well that ripples out too. Fruglity there ripples out as well becuase it helps bring those we love less money stress. And gratitude and contentment at the table definitely ripple out.

I think having a kind table could impact far more than we can even imagine....

(Image from

Blog Archive