Take care of the animal in you
November 22, 2017
The last two days have been stressful. To our utter horror, we found three of the four birds we have, lying dead. They had been pecked at and mangled mercilessly, while no one was at home. The culprit was a hawk; it flew off immediately when I reached home and opened my balcony door. The last bird was silently sitting in one of the corners. I could see it shivering out of fear. We call the bird cage their home because that’s the place where they have a swing to play on and a ladder where they go up and down. They would chirp, chirp and CHIRP till we stop talking and look at them. Which is when they suddenly become quiet. It’s a place where they feel safe and secure. They are lovebirds, one of the most demure and pretty birds, and easily fall prey. I still can’t talk about my birds in past tense.
We were devastated. ‘This is why you should not have pets’, my mother said with tears in her eyes. ‘It’s too painful to watch something happen to them.’ We all cried.
Our immediate attention went to Moli, our survivor. Turn by turn, we went and sat near her. We kept talking to her. I read my book the whole evening sitting next to her. My husband and I gave reiki to her. My mother kept calling her ‘kanna’. I kept asking her to eat and drink water. My husband missed his violin class just to be with her and worked from home for one day. The kids kept checking on it and shed silent tears. We left everything important for her. And that’s when it struck me.
I had read this article some time back. It speaks about something so simple yet profound. I understood what it wanted to say, but couldn’t relate to it practically. But when I took care of Moli, I perfectly understood what it meant. (Pets are a deep catharsis to the soul) It is a beautiful write up on what it actually means to take care of oneself.
Let me quote my favourite part of the write up:
I try never to forget three words the great Cole Porter wrote: “We’re merely mammals.” Hundreds of thousands of years before we developed our complications and neuroses, we were just another warm-blooded life-form trying to survive in a difficult world. When we forget that fact, we suffer. We get trapped in the shame and blame of our human minds and neglect “the soft animal of your body” (as Mary Oliver so beautifully calls it). But what makes us think we’re so special that we alone—unlike any other animal on earth—do not deserve loving care?
Sometimes the only way I can pull myself from the edge of terror or self-hatred is to ask myself, How does my animal feel right now? Then I notice my racing heart, my trembling hands, my shortened breath, my knotted stomach, my shaky legs, my clenched jaw…and I say, “This is no way for an animal to live.” I ask my animal what would make her feel better. A walk in the sunlight? A friendly voice? A treat? A nap? My animal teaches me how to take care of her, and she shows me how to care for myself.
Isn’t that so simple yet breathtaking? It was for me. I asked myself when was the last time I asked my animal how I feel right now? (I feel the most honest answer comes to our mind as soon as the question is asked.) The answer that came up was ‘not in a very long time’.
I admitted that I have been quite busy asking others about myself, letting them create opinions about me and in turn get hurt, and this includes very dear ones too. I have also been self critical, a tad too much, pushing myself when I actually need not have.
I do go through these phases of self probation, when I read a lot and feed myself to understand myself better. Each time the result has been positive. I am sure this phase will also will fruitful.
P.S: We got three new birds last evening and we have a happy bunch again. Amen!
BTW, do catch up with the complete article here. Savour it and devour it word by word. It’s worth it.