An Incredible Artist and A Hummingbird

“Would you like to join the Probus Club? ”  Gordon and I were chatting at our local theater.

“What’s the Probus Club?” I said.

“It’s an organization for people who worked in the business world.  It offers a world-wide network of interesting people and provides a host of speakers on subjects of interest to people our age.”

“Money raising events?”

“No.  Go to Rotary for that.  Rotary initiated Probus for people over 60, but we are autonomous and we do not raise money.”

I accepted Gordon’s invitation.  Each month, stimulating speakers presented varying subjects:

  • A retired Physics professor discussed the effects of our attitudes and belief systems on various medications and natural cures.
  • A couple told how they support a village in Vietnam.  The husband was a Veteran whose troop had bombed that village.  They visit regularly to stay in touch with critical needs of the villagers.  The wife and her friends knit “amputee socks” that protect amputated limbs and add colourful choices for wardrobes.
  • A professor from UBC,  Dr. Michal Byers, addressed “Who owns the Arctic?”.  Besides doing exploration trips with scientists, he mediates contracts between Canada and other countries who want access to the Arctic.

Even at the risk of being asked to take on secretarial duties, I paid my dues and now sport an indelible name tag.

The fourth presenter, Robert Bateman, Wildlife Artist par excellence was familiar.  Since he’s a neighbour and since his kind deeds permeate our province and country, I wondered what he could offer that most of us didn’t already know.

Emperor Penguin and Chick by Robert Bateman (Click Here)

Probus sent an email giving the title of his presentation and nothing else, “Phylosophical Problems”.  The contents would have to be discovered, the notice explained.  We soon learned it would be a topic that fuels this artistic soul.

Robert Bateman was about to share what reporters don’t want to hear from a famous artist.

When this 81 year old Naturalist, Environmentalist and community-minded individual took the podium, his presence suggested the energy level of a much younger man.   He did not stammer.  No proper noun escaped his grasp.  He worked with the power point projection without intimidation.  His determination to open our eyes, partnered with his natural dignity, placed attentive seat belts over our hearts.  Not a sound challenged his presentation.

He warned that disturbing facts and figures about the state of our planet needed to be told.  His world travels have built connections with many people around the globe.  He’s been given insights that must not be ignored.  In addition, his list of resource materials included books, environmental studies and information that people of a lesser passion would ignore.  Obviously we were going to meet a side of Robert Bateman not privy to many.

Robert asked us to be honest about our indifference toward crass commercialism.  Marketers have one goal in mind – to have us congregate into a clump of teenagers like cattle in a corral.  That way, manipulation is simpler and cheaper.  Children from the age of 8, some earlier, are encouraged to own, wear and think “teen”.   People from 20 to 45  are told to act, live and be “teen”.  Responsibility is left to…well, to whom?

The grown ups will soon be gone.  Who will care about Nature?  As one of Robert’s contemporaries said, “Society is practicing a version of ‘grandchild abuse’.”  Not only are we jeopardizing the sustenance of our environment, we are enabling the growing numbers of hours that young people are looking at screens.  They are not living outside, learning about life, language and skills that nature is prepared to teach.  A new acronym will be needed: NDD – Nature Deficit Disorder.

Robert cited another friend, “We better make certain older folks go to the gym and stay fit.  They’ll be pushing their grandchildren in wheelchairs.”

When he reminded us of the universal clock that shows how rapid our rush to midnight, he cited Kurt Vonnegut.  Kurt said, speaking in the past tense, “We could have saved the world, but we were too cheap.”

Were we too cheap or too centered on profit?

The last insight still sits uncomfortably in my core.  I envision desparate people stopping at nothing for fulfillment:

It’s not news that we’ve become pleasure driven people.  However, Robert explained it differently.  He asked us to think of anything in life that gives us the most pleasure we can imagine.  We considered how that felt.  He explained that someone taking pleasure inducing drugs like Ecstasy or Cocaine, experiences the body being thrown into pleasure overdrive.  The drug withholds the normal flow of dopamine, then releases it with a rush 1,000 times greater than normal.

Here’s the important point.   Did you know these drugs burn out the body’s pleasure center?

The National Institutes of Health – National Institute of Drug Abuse claims:

With repeated use, tolerance to the cocaine high also often develops. Many cocaine abusers report that they seek but fail to achieve as much pleasure as they did from their first exposure. Some users will increase their dose in an attempt to intensify and prolong the euphoria, but this can also increase the risk of adverse psychological or physiological effects.

The young ages at which students begin using these drugs begs lots of unanswered questions.  Grandchild Abuse zone!

If Nature will no longer give pleasure, can we expect these people to care about Nature?   What will they do to achieve pleasure?

I needed the solution that Robert Bateman promised.

It was the tiniest of short stories – a powerful one many of us have heard.

The other animals watched Little Hummingbird, and they were frightened.
“What can I do?” sobbed Rabbit. “This fire is hot, and I am scared.”
“This fire is so big,” howled Wolf, “and I am so small.”
“I can’t do anything about this fire,” croaked Frog.
“My wings will burn!” cried Owl.
Little Hummingbird continued her work. She flew quickly, picking up more water and putting it, drop by drop, onto the burning forest.
Finally, Big Bear said, “Little Hummingbird, what are you doing?”
Little Hummingbird looked at the other animals. She said, “I’m doing everything I can.”

– From the book “The Little Hummingbird” by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas,  Bowen Island, B.C.


I think Robert identified with that Hummingbird as he dropped each fact on us.

I hope some of the drops landed on my readers today.

Let’s carry our minuscule drops of Peace to the chaos in our world.  Remember that each drop carries a world.  Scoffers will laugh, but only listen to the whispers of Love.  Love is the voice in the wind.  It shapes the drop so all we see is Beauty.


(Later… Celi at has been inspired by Robert Bateman’s presentation.  Check out her drop of water!)

41 thoughts on “An Incredible Artist and A Hummingbird

    • Yes, Lorna, I really have been blessed with opportunities to engage with a breadth and depth of fascinating people. Since I have had to be on the move a lot, it is a joy to be at this stage of life where I can “mull it over”. It’s a complete joy to share any that is of interest to others.

  1. Thank you Amy for such an interesting post with a beautiful message, we all should do what we can. It may seem like baby steps to us but perhaps one day hopefully there will be so many people doing those steps, we will make a difference.

    • Methinks, Dee, that you are definitely part of the Hummingbird Clan. You would be hauling your drops to the fire and on the way back, you’d be saying, “Don’t worry, folks, when we get this out, you can’t imagine the incredible growth that with spring anew!”

  2. One of my favorite quotes ““Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can, As long as ever you can.” John Wesley
    It’s up to us to define what is good. I like your definition.

  3. Remarkably beautiful post! You’ve lightened my day a bit and I thank you so much.

    It’s disturbing – if we lose our ability to see the beauty in real nature, not VIRTUAL nature, then we’ll not be aware when it finally disappears. Ugh. I’m all for technology and how it can improve our lives, but we need Balance!

    • You hit the button, SDS. Balance. We need to keep saying it! One of the anthropologists I researched (Dr. Wade Davis) believes that the wisdom of the ancients survives, not in spite of, but with the aid of, technology. I believe awareness of these potential pitfalls will bring about a re-alignment. Technology does not have to be thrown out. But it is not to become our master.

  4. This was wonderful to read, I felt it ran straight to who I am and who I hope to be and how just that little bit that we do can and does make a difference. There are many of us who do care. All is not lost. However the ones who care need to DO. Even if it is a backyard garden. Or a native tree planted a year. Imagine if each one of us grew and planted a tree.. It is the doing. Thank you Ms Soul.. celi

    • Celi, can we put your words up in the sky for all to see? You are living the example. Thank goodness you blog about your life – it’s quality and such a great example. You show the tremendous all-round benefits of simplicity. Yes, it’s work, but it’s healthy work! Maybe we can’t all live on a farm (especially one like yours), but we can do the things you suggest. Thanks for your comment.

    • “…the ones who care need to DO.” And those who don’t (yet), must be then driven toward that end by desire. For example, if girls begin to prefer boys who ride horses, guess how quickly you’ll see them (the boys) exchange their ‘wheels’ for hooves. 😉

    • Yes, we’ll soon find out what’s behind the 2012 door. If, like 2000, life just continues to roll along, hopefully we’ve cranked ourselves into another level of awareness that leads to healthy decisions and living. Keep serving your droplets, Nance. It all counts.

    • Robert Bateman expressed his understanding that he was delivering a message that many do not want to hear, but we need to get our wings in motion . We need to see that we have some water to deliver.

  5. Thank you for always such interesting posts that reflect the energy and passion of your mind and the creativity of your spirit. Such a delight and a gift for all of us, your readers. In gratitude. Chris.

    • Thank you Chris. I sent a link of your blog to a friend who is having to be completely gluten-free and vegan. I know that Jim and you offer so much that would be helpful for her condition. I tasted a sample of Sam’s last plant-based instruction. Yummm….. I cannot get over how I can feel my body thanking me for giving it living food. That may sound woo-woo, but the sense is real!

  6. I hadn’t heard of this. At the risk of sounding curmudgeony, I’ve very tired of joining fundraising events or clubs that simply want my money. This sounds like a breath of fresh air. Thanks for sharing. I feel like a get a brain and spirit boos when I visit your site.

    • Exactly, Barb! It’s good to meet with folks who have shared some of the same experiences in business life and who still love to learn and give back. Most of us are fully engaged in how we want to give back so this truly piqued my interest.

  7. I agree with Barb. This really is a breath of fresh air. Most of us are thinking people, if we allow our brains to work. And some of us even think constructively. How very wonderful for these handful of people to get to meet people who initiate, propagate and nurture the fire to construct thinkingly, and destruct only the useless.

    • There’s a lot of “fluff” that will gladly make home in our brains, Priya. Education teaches us how to think and it’s fun to keep the skill as vibrant and vital as possible. A friend who is a literary prude will unabashedly say, “Why would I clutter my brain with that?”

  8. I love Mr Bateman’s paintings, I love hummingbirds, and I love this post.
    Oh man Amy you live in a little piece of paradise over there. You’ve described it as a small island yet you belong to a club where folks like Robert Bateman come and chat. Really? When’s the next meeting. Can visitors who don’t have a fancy name tab gate crash the party?

    lines that stay with me:

    “Nature Deficit Disorder.
    “We better make certain older folks go to the gym and stay fit. They’ll be pushing their grandchildren in wheelchairs.”
    the explanation of the pleasure principal

    and the delightful hummingbird story. (J’adore hummingbirds.) I’m going to check it out.

    • Yes, Rosie, it’s quite a little island. We have many excellent artists and people with quality taste in terms of culture. Therefore, it’s a place that attracts highly interesting people from all walks of life. It means we have a great theater, a grand new library and many artistic displays and performances. People have fascinating stories about how they discovered this island. When asked, the majority of people say the same thing, “When I arrived, I felt I’d reached home.”

      You can be my guest any time at Probus! And when you finish working, you can join your local Probus.

  9. What a wonderful club and a fine presentation from Mr. Bateman.

    The video (Hummingbird) was delightful. Thanks for including the link.

    Amy, the closing paragraph is at once prayer and instruction. It should be posted everywhere. Especially the first sentence.

    There is always peace here: exemplified, given, received.

    In metta,

  10. Excellent post, Amy. This one is memorable. I can not think of a thing that could not benefit from the example of the Hummingbird. Now I know who that artist was that painted that “TERRIFIC” elephant portrait I have seen for years. Thank you for that, also!

  11. I have been a fan of Mr Bateman’s for years and we have prints of some of his work here in our home. I was thrilled to read this. he is a man who walks in beauty and always encourages and admonishes the world to follow the beauty way.

    • You have excellent taste, Joss. Yes, he lives and breathes beauty. And gentleness. And kindness. He’s a very decent human being and I hope he has many more chances to talk about these matters far and wide.

  12. Hi Amy .. certainly a great club to have joined – with such wonderful information available .. all is being lost before us .. as we travel the path of life … Thought provoking .. with health to our humanity in 2012 and the years ahead .. Hilary

Love to "hear" from you...please leave a comment. If you wish to Subscribe, go to the "Home" tab and look to the right.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s