Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Love in The Devic Realm.

Life means something different for a variety of classes of people. According to a particular ancient tradition there are seven rays, or soul paths that proceed out of the white light of spirit and find their way back again to the source which would mean, I think, that life is just a journey of discovery, or, possibly, nothing more than a process of remembrance.

I intuit from this that some colors blend with other colors more harmoniously but that could be subjective according to the predispositions of anyone on any ray. I intuit that on each ray there are levels of apprehension and cluelessness. One could argue that presuming cluelessness is a form of chauvinism and that everyone has the right to be an idiot or a savant and that it can be hard to tell which is which depending on what is considered important.

It never fails to amaze me that people, who are here only temporarily, would value material concerns above spiritual concerns... that they would rather, “bind to themselves a joy” rather than to “live in eternities sunrise”; that they would kill the thing they love by suppressing the magic of wonder in favor of reshaping the beloved according to their own tastes... as if that were some sort of an improvement and as if they knew what was best. This isn’t to say that we can’t and don’t positively influence each other but the presumption that we know how someone should be, is the source of a great deal of the world’s injuries. The world itself, according to traditions and cultures and customs does this all the time and those who won’t submit are considered outlaws. Sometime they actually are.

It’s a hard call to possess the delicacy of true detachment and not have it come across as indifference. For me, I’ve chosen to bear a certain amount of life’s sorrow on purpose because otherwise it robs me of the poetry of being alive. Feeling loss and grief are natural things... knowing when to let them pass is a matter of wisdom. I always remember what Gibran said “The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.” Sorrow and loss have real beauty for me but only to the degree that they are useful colors on the palette of existence.

Susanne never had a dog until one day she took off on a plane to rescue Silky Lily Nelson from a shelter in Spain. She was about to be destroyed (Lily, not Susanne). During her time with us she has become a remarkable companion and still is. A year or two later (I can’t remember), two new dogs came in on a plane from Andalusia; Chloe and Bessie Hoover, the Love Sponge AKA Bessie the Magic Dog. As time went by I watched Susanne transform into someone who really loved dogs and began to show an involved interest in doing what she could for them in whatever way that was possible.

She’s not an obsessive, thank god and probably has as little tolerance for PETA as I do. I’ve got zero tolerance for political correctness and no appreciation for it. I’ve got very little use for anything that doesn’t operate with an understanding of what the world is and what our limits are. There’s some irony there because I often act like there aren’t any but that would be a misapprehension that doesn’t bear out over the long run. I’m still here aren’t I?

As I could see the potential for well-intentioned and understandable abuse, I told Susanne that we shouldn’t ever have more than five dogs. You lose a certain sense of the individual after that... or at some number not far beyond five and... I knew that there was always a little wiggle room which is why I said, ‘five’.

Recently I came down to our place in Italy and it wasn’t too long before Susanne called to tell me about some dog a hundred miles or so from here that people were talking about on some forum and I offered to go get that dog (I’m not sure why.). There was the idea that Poncho Moonlight (so named because he glows when the moon is larger) would be relocated. However, Poncho soon became my dog, although I had no intention of it. I’d been content to share out my affections all round; not forgetting to include Susanne in the equation. Then Susanne came down and a couple of weeks later she came home with a one-eyed dog that is now known as Alfie. A month went by and I went to Rome and then came home to find little black Nomi had joined us too.

There has been and is some tension between Poncho and Alfie and there won’t be any more male dogs coming in. Alfie and Nomi are going north with Susanne when she returns to the main home toward the holidays. We aren’t looking to have a menagerie and Susanne is good about staying in the lines with this... though it grieves her every time she has to let one go. I’ve left out some dogs and some interesting events but... where would I put them within the limitations of this piece?

Susanne has one of the kindest hearts I’ve ever known. She’s as rare as a banker’s tears. Just about everyone in this house has a strong empathy for living things which includes the unfortunate insect who can’t get out of a sink or anything but flies and mosquitoes and certain deadly things that are either... not welcome, or require more deft handling.

Before Susanne got Lily there was another small dog named Bonnie who had been her mother’s pet for a dozen years. Bonnie died in Portugal, largely because she was a bit more combative than she should have been but also because the vet didn’t know what she was doing. Bessie died for the same reason. She had a heart condition and a change in medication brought some bad side effects. They seemed to be passing. She wasn’t an old dog. She’d been with us about two and a half years and was around seven years old.

I wasn’t that close to Bessie over the time I knew her until the last six weeks. It was always Lily that I bonded with and Chloe well... she doesn’t get on so good with men. Of course, I attended to and cared for them all but you’re just closer to some creatures than others. Back to Bessie;

Because of the new medication Bessie began to wheeze and cough and it was alarming. I was always saying we had to get the vet over soon. The vet came by and said, “Well, this and that and she should be alright.” The symptoms backed off and I was truly relieved. Somehow, in the process of this, I came to love Bessie’s quiet patience and awesome and available love. Why I didn’t see what a beautiful creature she was in the times before I cannot say. Of course I stroked her and spoke to her and liked her a great deal but it was only in the last six weeks that I came to seek her out and love her for her modest and accommodating ways. She began to come into my room at night and look to lay on the bed with me but since Poncho had commandeered that; even when I would call to her to come she, instead, would find a place under my work table and lay there. As her symptoms eased, I was truly grateful that I had been able to see more clearly as a result of having been moved by her condition and attitude concerning it. I thought, “Isn’t that how life is... my life anyway... so many wonderful things that I don’t see until I see them.”

Yesterday, Susanne asked, “Where’s Bessie? I haven’t seen her in awhile?” I’d taken a nap but I had seen Bessie and a couple of other dogs out among the olive trees and walking around together in a way I’d never observed before. It was almost as if they were having a conversation. I went out to call for her. It was dark night. I called for a few minutes and I knew it was strange but not inconceivable that she hadn’t come.

It took us a few minutes to find a flashlight and then we went out. I went on one side of the driveway and Susanne on the other. Then I heard Susanne say, “Oh, there she is.” It gladdened my heart. I thought she had just seen her coming through the gates. Alas... when I went across the driveway, there she was... laying on the ground at a place I wasn’t accustomed to see her at any time. Susanne was kneeling by her and said, “Oh. She’s dead.” Then she said, “Wait... she’s alive... no, she’s dead.” She was still warm. All I could think was that she knew and she went to find a soft place to leave from- some kind of “Watership Down” thing and being the class act that she was, she went off on her own and then she was gone.

I’ll spare you the personal details in the aftermath. I think you know anyway. We buried her this morning under an olive tree and made a cairn. I was a little surprised when I could see the size of it from the back terrace. It didn’t seem that it took much work.

The night before, Susanne had wrapped her in a sheet and I placed my poster of Venus Rising that I had bought in Firenze two summers ago beneath her. I’d brought Susanne this beautiful scarf from Rome that I had purchased from a Columbian lady by The Coliseum and Susanne covered Bessie with the scarf and laid a rose from the garden on the bier. She lay there on the kitchen table overnight. I don’t have my sequencing right, nor have I done justice to the feeling and the history of things but I don’t want to go on about things which most of us understand but never seem able to convey.

This isn’t really about Bessie. Bessie is a catalyst for an eternal condition that goes on as long as there is the human element to experience it. This isn’t about our losing a friend; everyone does... those that have them. This is about understanding the continuous separation of our being from everyone we meet; everything we have and everywhere we are... sooner or later. It is uncanny to me that we can we be in a position to note; those of us that will make the effort to see... how it is that we arrive naked in this world and leave with nothing but some tokens and whatever they dress our envelope in... before it is laid in the grave or consumed in the furnace.

It amazes me and it always has that we can be so fucking blind to the important things and so clever about getting our way about things that we will take for granted soon after we acquire them. it amazes me how we identify ourselves as a man or a woman of one color or another; of one race or another, of one creed, political party or occupation as if that summed us up; as if what we were was merely the labels we embraced. It stuns me that we can abuse the ones we love and persist in selfish efforts to have and consume so many temporary entertainments of which we will remember so few at the end of our course. It stuns me even more that so many of us are left with these unfulfilled longings after what we wished we had had and done and been when we could have had and done and been far greater things if we had only been a little less self-absorbed... a little less vain... a little less deluded about our importance among so many people and events in this world that cared far less about us... or perhaps exactly as much as we cared about everyone else.

I’ve just got this to say and I will have to say that at the moment I can think of nothing more important than what I am about to say. Make sure that you take every opportunity to let those you love... or might have learned to love or admire know exactly how you feel while you still have the time to do it. You don’t get timed alarms that tell you something you cared about more than you ever admitted to was about to go away.

I’m not sad about my dog so much. Last night I walked out on the terrace and for a moment I saw Bessie fifty feet high and standing among the olive trees with a big smile on her face and saying to me that she hadn’t gone anywhere and that she would be looking out for us and though I know it was some powerful demand from within me that called this forth... maybe it’s all as real as you want it to be.

Mark my words... everyone comes to see that they should have done more to let those they loved know how they felt. Everyone comes to see the shortcuts they took and where they fell short in achieving the finer possibilities of their potential across so many opportunities in their brief time in this particular suit of clothes they call their life.

I hope I never forget that it’s always the right time to do the right thing... to curb my tongue, to look for some way to do a little more for those who made my life worth living because without them I had no life at all. I think I’m beginning to understand that I am defined by what I cared about and judged by the degree to which I made that clear... in the midst of whatever trials or sacrifices it demanded of me. I’m flawed and weak and I know that but I suspect we redeem ourselves by making it our sole concern to love and serve to the best of our ability once we come to understand... and we surely will, that there is nothing more... absolutely nothing more.


Anonymous said...

Man, it felt good just to read this posting, and see for a moment what it might look like if we had the luxury of just focusing on taking care of the simple things. Rescue a dog? Beautiful. But why is the notion of extending compassion and opening our homes to animals so much easier to contemplate than doing the same for another human being in need? How can we look at a dog without bias or judgement but not do the same for a stranger on the street? I don't get it, I guess.

One of the things that frequently crosses my mind when considering the prospect of having our glorious "standard of living" (what a joke that is!) reduced in this country (USA) is that if all the trappings of our "prosperity" are put out of the reach of the masses, we'll have to finally take a hard look at what is really important in our short lives here, if we don't all go nuts and shoot each other first.

I remember clearly when my perception of this country changed. I was sitting in front of the television (a habit I thankfully kicked 2 years ago) and a commercial came on for a candy bar. "2 for me, none for you!" it screamed at me. For some reason, it really pissed me off, but in that instant the illusion was lifted, the pretense was gone, and greed and selfishness had finally been given a face for me. Sure, there might be 2 bars in the package, but hey - screw you!

Opening your heart to someone, or even a dog or cat, has great risk attached, what with attachments and loss and all, so it is no wonder some people choose to limit this practice or reject it altogether. Living a life without taking that risk guarantees not having to suffer the loss, but what does that leave left to strive for? More stuff? Power over others? The illusion of love that is called fame? No thanks - send me a dog instead.

There have been lots of little gems put forth in your writings, and I thank you for them. This posting, and the last paragraph in particular, will stay with me for some time. I called my wife at work just to tell her how much I loved her and appreciated all she did for us, and it was the best, and simplest, thing I have done all day. Thanks so much for sharing once again. I appreciate what you do a great deal.


Anonymous said...

I tried writing something back but words were just not enough--

Anything I wrote would not have been true enough to the degree I wanted it to be. I just couldn't find the all would have seemed inadequate on any level other than the one that I only get a glimpse of from time to time...might just be a speck in my eye though.

There is a level where there are no words spoken because they are not needed--I don't know how to get there--but I want to be and perhaps that is all that is needed is the honest desire and openness.

What you wrote is what I want and need closest to my heart. I get a whiff of it from time to time but usually the wind is swirling and I can't tell what direction it's coming from instead of just enjoying the fact that it is there at all.
I "comment" back on smokingmirrors....I just want to share when I come in here.

I wish I could say that I have had someone (other than my wife) to sit and talk with, or sometimes say nothing at all to, just be with someone who, well, you know--can't find the words again.

Thanks, perhaps some day....

Anonymous said...

As Omah da Sala said Jj, 'You must release your burden', mate.

kikz said...


animal souls.

so strange to me, when i hear someone say... animals have no souls.
how odd. how myopic. how arrogant. how... silly. :)

i do feel sorry for these people. they just can't understand, have no idea...and miss out on such gifts.

animal souls vary in intelligence and personality, but all teach lessons.

although less mutable, they are less corruptible. such is 'the divine law of compensation'.

just like us,
they love.

and we are truly the better for having known them.

Anonymous said...

Tony: I wouldn't call it a "burden", I don't know that I would call it anything at all. Like I said, words are just inadequate to describe some things spiritual in nature--When I was writing, I just had to get something out that gave me, as much as anyone reading it, a little direction--maybe it was more of a release. I'll make the right turns when they come up. Perhaps I need to make sure the vehicle is in good working order before it leaves the driveway. I think the vehicle is fine and I should just get the windows clean so I don't miss what is there to see.


Anonymous said...

Since people can't take any materialistic stuff with them when they go, it would seem clear that it's not worth the effort to get all wound up with acquisition. One thing about having a lot, it can insulate people from others and their problems. Freedom from them.
To the extent it hardens ones heart, this isn't good. To the extent it helps one be left alone-that motivation, I can understand, to a degree
Have a rescue dog, a rescue snake, too, the value of a rescue animal

Anonymous said...

Your spot on with this Les, there is so much that we take for granted until it is gone.
I was reluctant to have a cat again but we did and to my surprise she took a real shine to me. I had to get her put down back in April and although the house is emptier without her I have not forgotten the love that came out of her eyes or the lessons that she taught me. I'm grateful that we found each other for a few years.

nobody said...

Thanks Les, I liked this. I've been feeding a Mr. and Mrs. Butcherbird on my balcony. They're the most charming creatures and have very good manners, ha ha. I chat to them while they perch a metre from me and sing songs.

But they're in amongst a tough gig. Mrs. went missing for a couple of weeks to raise chicks. When she came back she was all skinny. Now Mr. and Mrs. do shuttle runs to the distant tree where their chicks are. Their tree used to be right next to the balcony. But they've been pushed out by a particularly aggressive magpie family (not European Magpies 'gazza ladra'. These are actually shrikes, antipodean tough-guy lookalikes). They're now half a click away and only visit when the Magpies are absent.

Anyway there's nothing to be done for it. The Magpies will win and the Butcherbirds will be gone. I've been waiting for them to bring their chicks to visit but I suspect I may never meet them. I'll take my rolly (champion ruby, me) out on the balcony with only the piratical Magpie victors for company. Bleak.

As ever, the world is something other than how I would wish it...

Anonymous said...

It may surprise you but I've had words with PETA.
Sheep get seasick too- yeah right!

Ben There said...

From a fellow dog lover, what an incredible post. All I can say is thanks.

PS Just got back from northeast Georgia and sadly, Roy was in India so I didn't get to see him. The scenery up there is amazing right now though.

Anonymous said...

Jj, I didn't really require a reply on my comment to you...
It was a gift.

annabelle said...

Most of your responses appear to come from male readers and they are always interesting. However, I am a seventy year old grandmother who goes to her computer every morning and checks first thing to see what interesting, fascinating and inspirational wisdom I will discover from your writings, which are, without a doubt one of the few things on the internet worth reading. In many ways your thoughts stay with me throughout the day and have an enriching quality that is hard to describe, other than very sustaining, sometimes a bit depressing, although not bad kind of depressing, more of an enlightenment kind of depressing. I have a deep appreciation for your abilities and talents and am sending the best of salutations and good wishes for your continued truth searching and discovery. Sincerely, annabelle.

Visible said...

Greetings Annabelle;

Actually there are a number of women who read and comment here but often their names don't reflect their gender.

I want to thank you for making me smile on this rainy morning and letting me know that doing this makes a difference in places. I'm not sure why I wound up doing the things I do but I have.



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