Seeing and regarding. Acinipo, Spain. 2009

Whilst visiting the Roman ruins at Acinipo a donkey came up to my wife and I as we stood near an old carved block of stone.

Over the years I found that the equine species are a curious lot, and if you stand or sit still in a field for a while, they will, unbidden, come up to you. Which is something that those of you who wish to bridle a horse, that has been left alone in a paddock for a while, would do well to take note of.

The donkey was probably looking to be fed but we had no oats or grass to give it so it contented itself with a few pats, strokes and scratches. The old stone block we were standing by, had a few lines carved in its side and had perhaps at some time been the corner of a structure.

As I looked at the donkey and the stone I was reminded of something that I read once, “both monkeys and humans see the stars but only humans regard them”.

Looking into the donkey’s eyes I wondered what ideas, if any, rattled around in its head.

piss and shit.


Of course the donkey didn’t know it grazed over an old Roman settlement that was created for retired soldiers who fought for Julius Caesar against the army of Pompeis’  sons or that the stone it stood next to was shaped by human hands two thousand years ago.

About 30 years ago I read “Fatu Hiva back to nature” by Thor Heyerdahl and I was struck by how he was a thinker who didn’t just look at things and walk on by.

In the early eighties I saw Thor Heyerdahl give a talk about his books and theories. Although some of Thor’s ideas have been shown to be wrong, I have an overwhelming respect for the man as a thinker and human being. I love the way how he spent his life and the way how he looked at things.

After the great man gave his talk I went to a bar with a friend and I can still remember all these years later, how I was struck by the scene that I was presented with as I walked in. In the darkened boozer I could see various guys with arms folded, beer in one hand leaning against the walls with a uniform countenance that seemed to bespeak, “come, let me fuck you”.

piss and shit.

As my step father Manfred would say, “sex and alcohol are a small man’s sunshine”.

Some people are like the monkeys that see the stars but don’t regard them. Monkeys skip over the ruins of great civilizations without giving the slightest thought about what they are passing over. It’s not that the stones of the ruins are human fashioned, it’s that to a monkey, all stones are more or less the same.

Monkeys, or donkeys for that matter, through no fault of their own, don’t know or even care where they are in the world or where they fit in. They just are, and from a Buddhist perspective that’s pretty close to being materially unattached and very much in the moment.

Those of you who have read this blog for a while will have probably realized that I’m very pro, “be here now”, but I’d like to clarify my stance and say that a life lived without regarding what is around us, is a life that’s half lived. It’s almost a waste of being human.

5 thoughts on “Seeing and regarding. Acinipo, Spain. 2009”

  1. Vintage, Prof Buffnik, post with one sweet donkey! I think his ideas are in his ears, however, not his head. He also has a nose scarf. Nordstroms doesn’t carry those for humans in the US. Pity. Those with large honkers might as well dress them up. I just love the image and the thoughts of this post despite this silly response. When are you coming home, anyway?

  2. Pat

    The Europeans are such fashion victims (poor things!) that I feel sure there is a store over here that specialises in nothing but nose scarves. If I see one, I’ll get you one.

    We leave Paris to go home on the 18th of this month. On the day before, Epicurienne (her blog is here for those of you are reading this but who don’t know her, ) will be coming over from London by train to spend the day with us.


    Such a brilliant analogy about the different ends of what makes us human!

  3. I agree with Pat. The donkey’s thoughts must have something to do with those ears! And he was clearly regarding you. Perhaps it is just a slightly different set of interests that caused him to pay attention to you rather than that silly old stone. Great post and picture!

  4. Donald

    Yep, I’m sure you’re right about our “different set of interests”. I bet the donkey was wondering why I was playing around with the black metal thing, when it knew it wasn’t any good to eat and I would be able to mate with it.

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