You were caught in me
like a fish on a hook.
I tore you away,
threw you back to your world,
wounded to the insides of my bones.
In anguish we part,
my companion and I,
and stationed here upon this hill
we watch our tangled knot untie,
withdraw, resign, be still.
The absence of the muse
is the artist’s darkest hour.
I wish my tears were rose petals,
but they are not made of any flower.
The other night I made some popcorn and settled onto the couch to watch “Blackfish”. Somehow I missed all the buzz about it from last year, so I went into it blissfully ignorant of what I was about to learn. What started out as a seemingly harmless documentary quickly became an animal lover’s nightmare, haunting me far into the night as I lay in the dark reflecting on human nature, greed, and grief for the loss of majesty and grace among captive orca whales.
For me, this chilling film illustrates the unique intelligence of killer whales versus human intelligence gone bad, and highlights the price to be paid for tinkering with the animal kingdom in the interest of monetary gain. We are introduced to Tilikum, taken from his mother’s side when he was a young calf in 1983, and used to entertain families at Sealand Of The Pacific on Vancouver Island. His oceanic home had been ripped away and replaced with a prison cell of a holding tank, and whenever Tilikum failed to respond to the instructions of his trainers, food was withheld from him. Not surprisingly, he eventually killed a trainer. Sealand Of The Pacific closed down shortly thereafter, and Tilikum was moved to Seaworld in Orlando, Florida. The whole event was swept under the rug – none of the whale-handlers were informed of the trainer’s death.
Inevitably, a string of incidents involving Tilikum followed, as well as incidents with other orcas as well. At present there are around 35 recorded cases of captive orca attacks on humans, several of which were fatal. There are 6 recorded cases of orcas threatening humans in the wild. None were fatal, and they appear to be cases of mistaken identity: orcas mistaking humans for seals.
It is the bigger picture, though – beyond the specifics of Tilikum’s life – that cannot be ignored as deeply disturbing: the exploitation of orca whales (by water parks, in particular) as a means to profit. Animal families separated in order to sell tickets to human families. Animal children taken from their mothers, so that they may entertain and delight human children. All this rendered more cruel and more horrifying by the fact that orcas are incredibly social, profoundly emotional, highly intelligent creatures, who have a part of the brain that humans do not have.
I tossed and turned for hours that night, finally drifting into sleep. But my sleep was uneasy, and full of dreams about the catastrophic karma the human race is making for itself.
“I pictured myself in a Denver bar that night, with all the gang, and in their eyes I would be strange and ragged like the prophet who has walked across the land to bring the dark word, and the only word I had was ‘wow’. -On The Road
Weaponless, her face hidden beneath paint, a rucksack slung across her glistening back, she sets out alone again, through the twilight of morning.
Two tired jewels, she and the sickle moon both fade into the horizon, noiseless phantoms. All day she presses through mist and wind, crossing cloud-shadow and rain-shadow strewn recklessly over the earth.
The storm withdraws at evening’s approach. All is luminous with the rich gold of a falling sun. Smoke rises from the roof of a house in the valley below. She regards her destination grimly, arriving moments later on the doorstep, pausing for a sharp breath.
She is a master of fire, let it be known. Someday she’ll have the world at her feet.
She is the One.
Static waves, effortlessly synchronizing. The wheel of transformation is turning. Silence is available to our senses, if we will only pay attention to it. Noise comes into tune with itself.
Keep a cool head and a warm heart, temper humility with stamina, gentility with fire.
Be the Lion and the Virgin all at once. Walk the Solar Path.
May we not lose courage, may we open the flower of our own nature. If we go or if we stay, may we find the Middle Way.
May we overcome contradiction without trying to resolve it. May we feel what we’re feeling without needing to dissolve it.
Everything I thought I knew is just a stroke of brilliant blue, baptized by the earth and clouds. Sparkle in my blind eye flatters, sightless seeing all that matters. Every moment amazes once you’ve learned to sing the praises.
Wood and water, stone and leaf, time’s a terribly quiet thief. World turning, changing me, all that I will ever be is sea and stars, primordial soup, tattoos and scars, then bones, bare bones, among the sleeping broken stones.
May we trust in gratitude, learn compassion, seek forgiveness.
So many people these days are on an inward journey toward personal peace, a search for meaning in their lives, extending an invitation to Awakening as often as they can. It’s a sort of collective individualism occurring alongside the unshakeable knowing that we are all ultimately One.
How cathartic to remove a bandage and find an old wound has healed. Settle into yourself. Settle into the world until you reach the exit.