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  • I often wonder what it is that makes us different from other mammals, makes us human. I wonder sometimes if other creatures are self aware in the same way that we are, if they too endow their name for their particular species with a superior emphasis, as we do when we say 'human' about ourselves.

    When it gets hot at night I sometimes put candles in jam jars and sit outside in the cool evening air watching TV shows on my iPhone or chatting to family on the phone. A few years ago, I missed collecting one that had been left on a wooden plinth next to the Buddha statue in my garden. By the time I noticed and went to pick it up, the rain had filled it with water, which had gone a murky green and a frog had moved into it. I didn't like to tip him out on a hot day when he was taking refuge, his little froggy nose sticking upwards and his body protected under the water. So, I left the jam jar thinking he'd move on in a day or two. He didn't.

    The frog lived next to the Buddha on the plinth in his safe and secure jam jar all summer. I would go out and say hello to him and my mother and I would occasionally top up the water in the jar so it didn't go dry. The cat was curious but didn't bother him and he seemed very happy. Mr. Frog became a friendly part of the garden.

    One day we saw the frog was gone. Perhaps I thought, in sitting next to the Buddha so long, he had gained his own enlightenment and moved on to some greater purpose.
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