Otter does not care about what you think of his antics. He's in it for play. He'll try your trick once for fun, snatch the treat with razor sharp teeth and swim off in circles, ignoring your cue cards for the rest of the afternoon. Dolphins are only ripped from their natural habitats and tortured for our 'entertainment' because they can be trained. It's unlikely you'll be wandering in on an otter show anytime soon, because otter is already onto the next thing- repetition for security or reward is not in his wheelhouse. He has absolutely no patience for theater or clever presentations. *
We want more otter energy. We crave more love. Our energies are pulled in a million directions and love is hard to find. Forget Muskrat Love, let's have some wild otter love.
However you choose to spend your time, and no matter how successful you feel, there is that ever-present tug of divine dissatisfaction. The feeling you are supposed to be doing more or experiencing something different. Our human condition. What are you seeking? After all the masks are removed it becomes apparent that, without exception, every one of us is seeking love. Specifically the more unconditional and accepting love, although most of us would settle for a few rounds of loving kindness and a hit of simple understanding. Do we need to be in it to really get it? Empathy allows us to comprehend what someone else may be going through and refrain from possibly making it worse.
Imagine a world where all beings were treated to the healing medicine of unconditional love. People are barely civil in our messy wounded animal skins, busy scampering through our shadows or unconsciously seeking relief. There is no escape from pain, but keep grasping for some escape. Temporary distractions, like a hit from a tantalizing new lover. We get to project all our hopes on this potential partner because we don't know who they really are, yet. A bypass to keep from working on our own 'stuff'. Getting to the root of our dissatisfaction and the sickening panic terrorizing us as we sense a scarcity of love is the only way to actually heal. Someone else can't do that for us.
When asked what I wanted most in this life, I replied that I want to love better. However idealistic, I want to be capable of looking into your eyes, even if you have been ridiculously hurtful, and whisper this small prayer:
May you be well. May you be released from suffering. May you find the root of happiness. May you be loved. **
May you know truth, and may it set you free.
I also want to let go and play more, like our animal friends. I can do plenty of tricks, but like otter, I'm not too worried about applause or kibbles.
Ridiculous? Well yes, and I've been called worse. It would certainly be easier to hit back ever harder when attacked or provoked. That's just fear. I am not afraid and don't feel the need to hit back. The gifts of a progressive disease keep arriving. How we treat one another matters. In sickness and in health.
We learn a lot about a person by observing how they treat others when no one is paying attention. This is an invitation to see if we can match our public and private personas. Disclaimer: Its probably a bad idea to go peeking through windows, because you'll only get a glimpse before the sirens go off or the dogs attack. Plus, that's kind of creepy, and orange is not your color. Looking into my window you will find a brilliant example of A.D.D.! In fact, there is a squirrel on the deck chair next to me right now. Like otter, he is not that interested in performing but he steals the dog food.
I consider the squirrel, otter, these musical birds and the screeching neighbors training their petulant dog as teachers, but I also happen to hang around several working teachers. You know, the brave soldiers marching in early and limping out late from our school systems currently brimming with merciless teenagers and savage children. (Not your little darlings, I am sure they are perfectly respectful and always behaved!) Recently I was enjoying the lesson plans of one masterful and engaged educator, and came across a clip that exemplifies forgiveness and compassion in spades. Not compassion offered when it is comfortable or convenient. The kind that shows incredible fortitude, offered to everyone.
Trigger warning: this three minute video may be hard to watch. Not because of anything graphic, it is indeed SFW. This is a clip from the trial of serial killer Gary Ridgway. No matter how we like label ourselves: I am Catholic, I am spiritual, I am an atheist, I am agnostic, I am Jewish, I am a teacher...one thing has always been true. We cannot survive by trying to destroy everything that threatens our egos. This is not to make a case against justice, and certainly not to judge the way victims choose to regard their perpetrator. Just watch what happens between 2:06 and 2:49 :
This man, who may very well be Santa Claus, gave us all a nice big zen slap.
What people did to my family when we were struggling or what they choose to do now is not my business. Human behavior continues to confound and amaze. In Parkinson's we hear or experience real horror stories of behavioral changes while on Mirapex or various dopamine agonists which can spawn addiction. This tears families and friendships apart when people fail to understand drug reactions. We all take turns screwing things up. We return to health, to a practice, and hopefully, we find forgiveness. ***
The rear view mirror has gone missing and the road ahead looks incredible. If you live with a disease, you'll need your energy for more important work. People who have enough love in their lives and are actually awake do not perpetuate suffering, they alleviate it. These are the masters. Find them. Be one, for yourself. It's that simple. We may all cause pain unwittingly, and that is a different conversation. Betrayal is a current area of research. A lot of people who deal with chronic pain and disease express feeling left behind and betrayed by former friends. Your stories are pouring into the Kiddo inbox and three more blogs are ready to go. Thank you for sharing, this cannot be easy. My heart aches that we have all experienced such unnecessary agonies, so I offer a shred of seemingly unrelated advice:
Play more, for the sake of play itself. Be an otter. Release yourself and others from any semblance of judgement or retribution and the virus of self-absorption. There are things we have to let go because they will probably never make sense. Right next to you, someone is fighting for her life or experiencing grief no one should have to endure. Like my luminous and mirthful friend dying of a brain tumor. Or the child of a friend died yesterday. He died in her arms. There is unspeakable suffering and we don't know what to do with it. It comes in waves. We carry one another through hurricane waters. We choose not to act as opportunists when someone is down. This is friendship and loyalty.
I dare you to make an unwavering commitment to love- go ahead and leak it everywhere. It is our human right to play and enjoy and feel good in our bodies and minds. If you assume you are of no use when you are off balance, just think of Chiron the wounded healer. Think of the dying nurse leaning in to wipe your brow. We want to lash out at injustice and all that is wrong in the world. We feel like hitting back. As satisfying as the idea of punching someone in the nose may be, you'll get much more out of the bags at Rock Steady Boxing than anyone's face. These boxers mean business and they understand the value of play. ****
I've got to go so I can wait in line at the drugstore, again. Someone broke the mailbox and car door, stealing all my Parkie medicine.
Your prescription is ready now. Go, play. You are so beautiful when you lose yourself. I can't take my eyes off you. I have the same chills watching a musician lost in the music, a painter or dancer transcending all time and even space in the moment. This moment is all we have. The otter knows this. Let's get lost in wild play more often like sufi dancers, like wolves, like otters. *****
* Not cool, Sea World, not cool.
** One version of such prayers of peace:
***Mirapex side effects
*****A tip of the hat to Liz Gilbert and Neil Gaiman, for the idea