Save the Frogs, Save Ourselves

Yesterday my husband Matt and I picked up Museum of Science passes we had reserved from the local library (so entry fees were $5 per person vs. $19 each!), and headed down to see “Frogs: A Chorus of Colors.”

Sure, it was a thrill to see the royal blue Poison Dart Frogs and the freakishly large African Bullfrog (on whom Jaba the Hut must have been fashioned). A beautiful surprise for me was the Long-Nosed Horn Frog that employs camo for self protection: it looks like a dry brown leaf, complete with “veins” and all. Stunning, really.

But the sour theme of the exhibit was the increasing endangerment of many species of frogs.

Frogs have been around for about 250 million years, adapting and surviving the tenure of dinosaurs, the controlled use of fire, the invention of the wheel, countless wars. Along the way, new species of frogs have arisen and older species have died off , but since the 1990s, frogs have been undergoing mass extinction (with dying rates far outweighing the emergence of new species). Causes include Global Warming, habitat constriction, and chytridiomycosis (a disease caused by a newly discovered nasty pathogenic fungus).

Crazy. Frogs were resourceful enough to make it through the Bubonic Plague and the Industrial Revolution. They found ways to filter junk and avoid sucking up too much poisonous air and water through their sensitive skins. But all of the stresses are getting to be too much for this high maintenance, high performance species.

Like my frog brothers, I am sensitive to toxic stresses around me. Strong unnatural smells make me tense and irritable. The roar of my crappy neighbor’s dirt bike sends me into a rage. The flurry of new emails each day drowns me. And like the adaptable frog, I strive to develop and hone coping mechanisms (cleaning only with baking soda/vinegar/lavender in my own space; laughing off the dirt bike screams; remembering to breathe and keep my admin tasks in perspective while I am in the office).

But I can only react so much before my creative vitality and well-being gets squished.

We humans are managing the same or similar environmental stresses that frogs are (we have cancers and new flu strains instead of chytridiomycosis). Plus we’ve got lifestyle and technological expectations to further stretch our time, resources, and resilient spirits.

What we do to the frogs we do to ourselves. The crowded, polluted, high-speed world environment we all inhabit is our own bed we are making. If the frogs are becoming less able to devise filters and coping mechanisms, we may be as well.

So this week I am meditating less on the overwhelming tasks I “need to do” and more on the stuff I truly need to leap like a little frog: clean water, safe home base, sufficient food, clean air and time to breathe it, and the company of others who have powerful legs.

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