So we get that we are spoiled. We have lived on the stunning campus of Pepperdine University for nine years now, which just isn’t fair. Perched high on a mountainside overlooking the Pacific Ocean in sunny Malibu, the campus is consistently ranked one of the most beautiful in the world. I heard that a federal judge once said that Pepperdine is the sort of place where God would live if he had the money.
As if the geographic setting wasn’t enough, there are deer that lazily wander around the campus as if they own the place. They drive our hard-working groundskeepers crazy, but the beautiful deer are popular with the steady stream of campus visitors who just can’t believe that such a place exists.
But once every year or two we receive notice of a mountain lion sighting somewhere on campus. Not cool, but balancing living in breathtaking beauty with a fleeting moment of potential terror every year or two is not a terrible trade off.
And then there is now. There have been eleven mountain lion sightings in the last six weeks. An expert came in to advise the University, and we were told that “[t]he expert expressed with confidence that this is a healthy mountain lion, moving within its territory, and acting normally.” There is no good news anywhere in that sentence. I have no desire to live in the territory of a normal, healthy mountain lion. If forced to coexist, I’d prefer a mountain lion that’s sort of antisocial and experiencing a curious loss of appetite.
We were also provided a list of tips on how to respond if we encounter a mountain lion. I’m not very excited about most of the items, including “Do NOT run,” which seems like the sort of advice the mountain lion would give instead. And, “Appear as large, loud, and powerful as possible,” which if you know me, really just isn’t possible at all.
My friends often comment on the pace of my morning runs. One word, my friends: Motivation.
There is one piece of advice, however, that I am particularly good at: “Respect the animal.” Done. No problemo.
In this crazy, crazy world of ours filled with fear of each other and the “other” and the toxic vitriol that such fear produces, I wonder how much progress would come if we chose to truly respect one another.
It supposedly works with mountain lions.