Touched by a gorilla

Photo by Porco Rosso on Unsplash

I can’t remember when my fascination with Gorillas started but the movie “Gorillas in the Mist” definitely contributed to that.  I only recently read the book (with the same name) by Dian Fossey on which the move was based. In the book she shares 13 years of research of the mountain gorillas in the Virunga mountains in Africa.

A few times in the book I was really touched by what she did and how the gorillas engaged with each other as well as with her. The one was when she and a gorilla (that she called “Peanut”) shared eye connection for the first time.  In that moment she felt that she has “crossed an intangible barrier between human and ape” and “finally been accepted by a gorilla”.  She writes

“The expression in his eyes was unfathomable. Spellbound, I returned his gaze – a gaze that seemed to combine elements of inquiry and of acceptance. Peanut ended this unforgettable moment by sighing deeply, and slowly resumed feeding.”

The combination of inquiry and of acceptance is so powerful. Through my coaching work I came to realise that those two elements (inquiry and acceptance) are vital in the process of becoming. How can you gaze upon yourself with inquiry and acceptance and also do that in your interactions with others?

There was another beautiful incident with Peanut that Dian described in the book. When they touched hands for the first time. After the incident they named the place “Fasi Ya Mkoni” meaning “the Place of the Hands”. The words moved me. It reminded me that, just like the gorillas, we too have a yearning for connection and to be touched. What or who do you need to touch today to deepen your connection with life?

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