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Four Lessons From A Pack of Coyotes in The Middle of Edmonton

Maybe growing up as a country kid gives me a bit of a bias. I'm going to tell a story.

Yesterday evening I was on my way home from the gym and about a block away from my home, a jacked up truck was driving really slow.

I could see a couple coyotes had just run into an empty patch of land and I didn't think much of it - because I hear them at night sometimes and see them around a lot. I know they are there, and for me, it's actually comforting in a weird way. Reminds me of home.

I've just always been accustomed to wild animals needing space to coexist on the land that I live on. You just have to get used to where their space is, and what it looks like.

In the country, their space is the wide open fields and in the trees and bushes.

In the city, their space is whatever hasn't been developed, where they can find shelter, safety and food sources.

At the time of this story, they were still pretty close to the road, which is what got the attention of the driver of the truck. There were about 7 of them travelling together.

The fact of the matter is that ten years ago, that was their home and it had probably been their home for generations. There's a new condo development that was put up between 2011 and 2016 on land that used to basically be swamp and empty fields.

It's not the coyote's fault that Edmonton grew and built things where they live.

Anyways, the dude in the jacked up truck in front of me just stopped driving altogether. Then they started reversing towards my car to reposition, and then centered themselves on the two-way, two lane residential street.

It was like being in Banff when someone sees an animal, but much much worse.

They angle parked in the middle of the road with no comprehension as to what else was going on, holding their phone out the window. They had no idea I had come to a full stop behind them, no idea that there was a car oncoming who was perplexed as well.

I slowly drove around them hoping they wouldn't do anything crazy and bump my car, and the coyotes stayed where they were.

The thing is that the coyotes have been through a lot over the course of their existence. The challenges and stress of 2020 isn't new for them. They live here, they have to survive. In order to survive they do what it takes.

This isn't a game for the coyotes. They aren't putting on a show to demonstrate resilience and strength, and their ability to bounce back. They are simply existing.

The world takes parts of their home year after year so they pivot, and made it their own once more as the need arises.

But then amidst all of that there are resources everywhere for the coyotes. Not only are their white tailed jack rabbits all over the neighbourhood but we as humans throw out a great deal of food that could have still been consumed.

That's a sidestory in its own and a testament to how much I respect the local businesses and organizations that minimize waste and help houseless people feel a sense of community and warmth when they need it.

Now please don't take this as me advocating that coyotes should be digging in the garbage for food. It can be harmful to their health, it can put them in danger of proximity to humans etc. However, it's a variable that we should consider.

It's very similar to the garbage we eat out of sheer convenience, palatability or clever marketing.

Now as far as the coyote's experience goes, when someone eats half the food they buy, and then throws the other half in the garbage, a coyote is going to smell that food and look for it, because it's easier to eat some pizza crusts than it is to chase a jackrabbit.

Our experience would be that when we are hungry, and we want food, we can very quickly find food, get it delivered to us or walk 2 blocks and have something heated up in a matter of minutes. It's so easy that people hire coaches in order to get better at choosing nutrition once more.

So the sidebar here is that I think we take for granted that we lead lives where most of us don't have to work our asses off to find food - and in saying that, it's important to be extremely aware of the human beings in our neighbourhoods that DO have to work their asses off to find food.

That is what it means to be in this together. We live together, we eat together, we survive together.

This is where environment from both an exercise and nutrition standpoint but also community standpoint plays a key role.

I'm going to try and tie this together.

The person stopped driving their truck altogether and took out their camera because it was so new to them to see survival and a community of mammals supporting one another in unprecedented times. They felt it was so rare, that if they didn't film it now in the middle of traffic, they would never see something like that ever again.

Take a moment to use your imagination with me.

In life, we are the coyote. We are put on this earth to do whatever it takes in our given environment to survive.

Having said that, we share in this environment. How we show up will either make our environment more livable for our community, or more toxic. A support network is essential. Support systems are essential.

I look at this situation from a very zoomed out, personal development, long term sustainable healthy lifestyle lens.

The thing is that life is going to throw you some obstacles. Just like humans do for wildlife or global warming does for the environment. Of that, we can be certain. We are going to be constantly tested and challenged with emotional and physical trials. Cancer is very common as well as many other diseases and illnesses. Mental health struggles are very prevalent in society.

So outside of our health and well being, from the coyote's viewpoint, more and more land is going to be developed - land they inhabited in one way is going to be inhabited in a whole new way. They will have to learn to survive amidst the variability of vehicles harmful food sources.

No matter how much they adapt today, they are going to have to continue to adapt over and over.

But they will.

Because they surround themselves with likeminded beings.

Coyotes are known for having a pack. They are famous for their ability to communicate with their species with their howl. They stay connected.

They are aware of their food source - no matter what it may be - because without it, they will not survive.

A coyote doesn't cry when you build a freeway - granted it probably gets pissed off, but it finds ways to cross it. A coyote steps out of its comfort zone to evolve. A coyote learns new skills to contribute to the pack. Like crossing a busy freeway without getting hit.

All of these are takeaways that we can learn from.

Challenges that we may deem are too difficult for us to overcome, yet more often than not, the people faced with those challenges overcome them.

Here's a story summary:

1. No matter what happens in your life, whether the roof gets taken off your home, a tornado knocks down your walls, or you go through something really really difficult, you are a survivor.

2. You know that you can't do this alone - this is a fact - you are going to need friends and/or family. You are going to need to let people help you, and you'll experience times where you are the helper.

3. You are going to need to prioritize your nutrition. It will help you survive and avoid health complications that shorten your lifespan. If you eat garbage simply because it's convenient or tastes good, you might still live, but you're more likely to get hurt - and your community needs your support.

4. You need to find as many ways to communicate with your community as possible, no matter whether you're physically distant, or close. You need connection to survive. Learn more methods to communicate, understand more cultures and customs and traditions, learn about asking better questions and communicating with transparency, honesty and vulnerability.

This process isn't going to make sense to everyone.

Simply doing what it takes to survive isn't going to make sense to everyone.

That's why the truck stopped to take pictures. Unless you've been in a place where you need to pivot and figure out how to thrive and stay connected, you won't appreciate what coyotes have to do in an urban center that used to be their kingdom.

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