Steve Barnes' World of Happiness

A donkey's influence.

From our Internet neighbours at Caenhill Countryside Centre comes the news that Coco, the inimitable donkey, died suddenly this week.

"These things happen, we know – the circle of life," Chris says to Coco's companion Eli, who has seemed understandably sad, though still surrounded by the farm's animals and friends, of course.

I think the two had been around since I'd been following. Eli carried a tranquil and accepting air, and Coco seemed to exude enthusiasm and attentiveness; certainly because of carrots, and largely because of her general comfort and happy life on the farm. I knew to expect that sort of uplift when clicking on a video featuring her name, occasionally finding an energetic romp around an open field, an imploring bray from the distance, or an assertion of her ability to open a hinged door through which she intended to pass (perhaps on the second attempt once she'd observed the incorrect amount of force caused it to bounce gently closed again).

Chris and his followers sometimes describe the farm as "magical." Its continuous display of faunal community deserves the descriptor as much as anything, but I think its most valuable lesson is that the capacity for friendship across mammals and birds is available and discoverable without magic. It's there every day, and that prompts us to wonder whether it's also hidden closer than we think. Some look at the Internet and see an appliance, others see dollar signs for their company; but to me, this kind of sharing for its own sake, spreading experiences and happenings for each other to find and consider, is what the Internet is primarily for, and should always be for.

I can only wonder whether Coco gained any real awareness that she stood to influence across the world in this way. With the help of Chris and Caroline, it's possible she did more than she ever happened to imagine, just by being herself.