Last Friday I was dying of thirst so I went down to the cafeteria to fill up my water bottle. I'm off in my own little world, daydreaming about something I feel I have no right to dream about, when a frantic woman ran up to me, said "Michelle, is that you?" hugged me, and began crying. This woman was familiar to me, but it took me a long time to place her. I eventually remembered that she was the mother of a girl I went to high school with. I couldn't believe she remembered me. She held on to me for quite some time, telling me how very sick her husband is. She told me every little detail. I hardly said a word. I felt her pain so intensely that I also cried. After this, she stepped back and looked at me. She put her hands on my shoulders and thanked me; she told me that I made her feel a lot better, that I told her what she needed to hear. I wandered back to my office feeling completely drained. I hardly had enough physical energy to lift my finger to push the button on the elevator. I had a splitting headache. I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering if medicine will really be the right career for me. I will need to learn how to not let people suck the life out of me. I could've protected myself, I know this, but I had the opportunity to give something to someone who needed it, and there is just no way I could refuse her that.
Friday night Shelley and I went to see Ronnie Burckett's new marionnette show, "10 Days on Earth" (http://www.johnlambert.ca/english/ronnie/ronnie_productions.htm). It was disturbing, but extremely well done. I was so thankful to have Shelley beside me - I generally have to do everything by myself, which is usually okay by me. I go to art galleries by myself. I go to movies by myself. I go for walks by myself. Sometimes I even take myself out for dinner. In the show, the main character is a simple-minded man who spends lots of time in a fantasy world. I couldn't help but relate to him in that way. I spend a lot of time in my own little world too. I dream about the life I would like to have, about the world I would like to live in. And I wonder if this is why I never really feel lonely. I have no problems sitting in a restaurant with a glass of wine and a notebook. I wonder if this makes me look simple-minded to the rest of the world....I wonder if maybe I am simple-minded.
I spent Saturday out on 200 acres of unspoiled land where this amazing woman Paula and her daughter Twyla run a sancuary for abused, neglected, and abanded animals. She has llamas, goats, parrots, cats, dogs and horses. I got a bit lost finding the place, because as usual I was daydreaming andnot paying attention to the road. But when I arrived and met the other people who had chosen to spend the day there, the usual thing happened - three people were 100% sure they had met me before but couldn't place where. If I had a penny for every person who felt they knew me, I'd be a very rich girl. I wonder why this happens so often. I managed to connect almost immediately with one of the women there (and she was one who felt she knew me from before - in fact she felt familiar to me too). I went on a tour of her land, and it was so beautiful. There were rolling hills and fields and a forest, and then in the middle of the forest was a mossy area with pines growing, and it looked just like the forest along the BC coast. I felt so connected to the earth in that place. Even though it was freezing cold and soaking wet, I felt the need to take my shoes off and let my feet really connect to the earth.
And then I met Lola. Lola is a horse who had been starved nearly to death. She has been at the sanctuary for quite some time, but she has been unable to put on any weight. I felt her call me. Paula warned us all that she was nervous and skittish and could be aggressive. But I just knew somehow that I would be safe with her. I walked up to her and I looked in one of her eyes and I told her she was beautiful. I walked to the side of her and rested my head against her. I could feel her ribs poking through her skin. I cried and cried and cried. I had more to learn from Paula, and so I left Lola. Later, during lunch, I took an apple out to her. I stood beside her, she rested her head on my shoulder, and she fell asleep. She even snored. It was one of the most amazing moments of my life, to be trusted like this. I rested my head on her and stood there for 45 minutes and just felt her breathing, felt this life beside me. It was magical.
But I was outraged. I can't fathom the thought of people treating animals this way. Paula and I talked about it. Paula believes that the way humans treat animals is a reflection of the way they treat each other. She's right - all you have to do is look at the genocide happening in Darfur. Not only are people killing each other, children are starving, women are being raped, and the rest of the world sits back and lets it happen. People can spare $5 to buy a latte at Starbucks, but they can't spare some change to feed the hungry. People say they have no time to donate, but they spend 6 hours in front of the TV every night vicariously living through fictitious characters. Many people don't even bother educating themselves about this world. I just don't get it.
And as enraged as I get, I am also guilty. I mean I sit here and spout all of this, but what do I really do to help this world? Sure, I give money to Amnesty International every month. Sure, I will be buying oats to take to Lola this week, sure I dutifuly read the Economist every week to keep up with world events. But what do I really do? I know I can do more, and yet I don't.
Shelley and I drove to Vermillion to meet a friend for lunch, and the whole way there I talked about this. I talked about how I can't possibly do everything. I can't save all the starving children. I can't treat every person with AIDS in Africa, and can't take in all the orphans, I can't rescue all the animals. I know that I have a special connection with animals. I know that I have two rescued dogs living in my house already. I know I could do what Paula does. But instead of doing it, I sit here and say, but I have no time, I have no money. How can I buy land? Where do I find the money to feed these animals? How would I ever be able to cope, seeing such suffereing every day? How ever will I cope when I die of heartbreak every time an animals gets adopted? Shelley would say I'm only being realistic, but I think I'm just making excuses, like everyone else does.
The thing is, this is how I see my life. I see myself living in a wide open space surrounded by trees and lots of animals. I see myself having my own garden, and having a space where I can do yoga outside, on the grass, naked, whenever I want to. I see there being lots of time to make music, or art, or to write. And love, love, love all around me. But instead, what I have is a house in the city that I don't like. A job that I don't like. I have a partner who loves me to death, yet I find myself wanting more. More passion, more joy, more connection. I am loved here, yet I pine for someone I don't really know, someone I know I will never have. There's just a strong yearning for a different kind of life. The problem is that this yearning is getting stronger, and I can't seem to release the attachment I have to my life, and it all makes me feel like I'm spinning out of control.