How I Discovered My Passion For Lions
And How You Can Too
How I Discovered My Passion For Lions – And How You Can Too – For some, finding a passion in life is easy. For others (like myself), it can be difficult to choose between passions and interests in order to focus your attention on just one.
Jacalyn Beales – CACH Canada
No one can help you figure out what it is you want to spend your life doing, accomplishing and working towards. Some pursue a PhD, others build furniture, many travel and forget themselves in wanderlust. Regardless, passion is passion, and if you’re an animal advocate, that passion often extends to all animals. Whilst your passion and love for wildlife is admirable, how are you to choose between all of the species? How do you pick just one?
My decision to join the fight for Africa’s lion really began because of a photo. At the age of sixteen, I was given the rare opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic to build homes in poverty-stricken villages. I traveled there with an open mind and a serious desire for adventure and new experiences. Whilst living there, I saw much poverty, illness, disease and animal cruelty.
But one occurrence sticks out in my mind, which I would not realize until years later actually affected me more than I could understand at the time. Myself and a few other friends who had traveled on that trip to the Dominican with me visited a small store in San Jose de Ocoa, where we would often stay at the local convent when we were not staying in a village working on homes. The store had payphones which we could use to call home. I paid the fee ( a measly few pesos, much less than it costs to call a friend here in Toronto from a city just outside of the metropolis) and called my parents, updating them on my adventures and experiences.
As I was telling them about waking up everyday to a beautiful view of vast mountains and sprawling hills filled with crops, cows and local villagers, a picture just inside the phone booth struck me as odd. It was a poster with a picture of a white lion, its mane majestically blowing in the wind as it laid contented in a large field of long, lush green grass. The last time I had checked, they didn’t have lions in the Dominican Republic. But the caption at the bottom of the photo clued me in. It said, “The King of Africa.”
It was a random photo, in a random phone booth, miles away from the place I call home; yet, the photo completely enchanted me. I found myself quickly ending the call with my parents on the excuse that I had to run to grab pineapple marmalade before the shop closed (a condiment I had become absolutely obsessed with, considering it was one of our staple foods on that trip). But I couldn’t tear my eyes away from that lion. I ended up tearing it from the wall and buying it from the shop owner for the equivalent of one Canadian dollar.
Years later, at the age of 23, I still think about that photo. I don’t often dwell on the past; I believe in living in the present and for the future. But that lion has never left my memory. Over the years, I have periodically wondered where that lion came from, what his fate was, where in Africa he was living. To me, that lion felt like a long-lost friend that I had known but sadly lost contact with. With my equestrian background and extensive experience with horses that spanned more than a decade, I always believed my passion would be horses. Oddly enough, it’s lions.
A photo sent to me recently by David Nash (CACH Scotland) triggered the memory of the lion that inspired me to care about these creatures in the first place. David took a beautiful photo of a male lion, its mane not yet fully developed, with piercing eyes. The moment I saw it, the same feeling I had looking at that picture of the lion in the DR came flooding back and, I realized, there’s a reason why they say that you’re calling is a “passion.”
If You Love Lions Like I Do – Then Look On Line Or In Books And Find A Photograph Of A Lion Who Speaks To You. Let Him Become Your Touchstone To Help In The Fight To Save Africa’s Lions!
This Beautiful Photo Is By David Nash of CACH – Scotland
I simply cannot imagine taking all of my anger, sadness, frustration, interest, curiosity and compassion about the plight of Africa’s lion and focusing it all on anything other than the lion. For me, my passion is helping to ensure that mine is not the last generation to see the African lion roam freely, without the threat of extinction, not under the thumb of the hunting industry.
Few things in life are black and white. How do you choose what to fight for? How do you choose what you focus on and apply all of your passions, interests and desires to? The answer: only you can figure that out. People will tell you what happiness is, how to find it, how to discover your passion; there are a plethora of books, tv shows, self-help guides and motivational speakers famous for their ‘ability’ to tell you what your passion is and how to use it.
But no one can tell you what to fight for, except for you. My dreams have ranged from becoming a large-animal vet, to the next Hemingway (don’t ask – I’ve read too much classic literature and I went through a lengthy obsession with Thoreau and the like). But my passion has always been animal rights and welfare. I have been fortunate enough to combine my love for animals and writing, just as others have.
My hope for all young people (especially my generation) is that we all find our ‘lion photo’. Whatever it takes, whatever happens, to show you what your passion is. If it’s a photo of a lion in a random phone booth in the Dominican Republic, seeing an elephant in a circus being abused with bull hooks, or the poaching of wolves in Yellowstone National Park. Find your lion photo, and chase your dreams. Who knows – you might just help change the future for our world’s wildlife.