“This is why I live in Los Angeles”, I said to myself this morning, when I got up at 6am and stepped into the garden. The hills around me were wrapped in pinkish fog, as if a distant fire was burning somewhere far away, gently coloring the mist, the fog, the hills, the world.
As I was making breakfast for my son, a hummingbird was watching me from the other side of the window. It was shiny green and moving so fast that it seemed as if it wasn’t moving at all. Right there in front of me was a perfect illustration of the old Eastern wisdom: the ultimate yin turns into yang – and vice versa. The ultimate speed turns into stillness. When something reaches its peak, it turns into its opposite. Or something like that. The hummingbird was giving me my first philosophy lesson of the day.
As I walked through the house to wake up my son, I became aware of someone’s eyes following my every move. I looked outside the window. I felt a sudden and powerful surge of fear and thought: “Aha. This must be the so called primal fear. Right now I’m reenacting my ancestors’ fears of wild beasts outside their (my) warm cave.” Yes, there was a little tiger outside my window. And it looked at me without any fear. It looked at me with an expression that seemed to say: “Do you really think you own this house??? Ha, ha. What a preposterous and unrealistic audacity. You dared to come into my territory and now you’re afraid?? Deal with it, human. Deal with sharing the space with me, the rightful owner of this land, the true indigenous inhabitant of this place. And pay me respect. Or else….” The bobcat was standing there, looking at the frightened human inside the cave with calm superiority. And the human bowed in fear, saying: “I am just passing through. Really. You win, I lose. Please, please, please, have mercy.” The bobcat was satisfied with this silent expression of human inferiority. He walked away calmly, without turning back.
As I was starting the car, yet another rightful owner of the land came by to inspect the activities of the uninvited guests who seem to have forgotten the fact that they are, simply and plainly, the intruders. A coyote stopped next to the car and looked at us. It was a baby coyote with shiny, healthy fur. I started worrying. Where is the bobcat? Will they meet? And how will the meeting look like? Does the baby coyote stand a chance? And whose side would I be on in this encounter? Would I cheer for the coyote or for the bobcat? How do we decide? How do we choose sides? The philosophical lessons were continuing. The big questions were piling up.
I have only been awake for 45 minutes and was already overwhelmed by all these huge questions that were – I was beginning to realize – brewing intensely within my closest environment. If this continues, how am I ever going to get through the day?
Quickly, I drove off, leaving the ancient owners of the land to themselves. The misty hills were serene and beautiful. But I knew that somewhere in their green and soft midst a multitude of life and death dramas were occurring in each and every moment of the day. Not to mention the night.
How can we go on living our lives with all the dramas around us? Do we let ourselves see and hear and feel? Or do we shut down and close our eyes to the world, in order to be able to – just live?
As we were making a turn, a baby deer jumped in front of the car. “Mommy, stop!!!”, screamed my son in fear. I stepped on the brake full force. The deer looked at me. He (or was it a she?) was scared. “I’m lost. I don’t know where my mommy is”. Or: “Hey, woman, why don’t you learn how to drive already?” Whatever the deer’s message was, we couldn’t take the time to deal with it. We had to go. We were going to be late for the school bus. I made a loop around the frightened animal, opened the window and gestured towards the hills. “There, go there, your people are there, in the mountains.” “Mommy, it’s not “people”, it’s “animals”, my son said. “I can’t say: Your animals are there.” “Yes, that sounds weird”, confirmed my son. I remembered a silly ad for animal shelters that proclaimed: “Animals are people too.”
By the time we reached the bus stop, my head was already filled with the eyes, the wings, the paws, the movements and the expressions of those distant friends, those “people” who happened to be animals, or animals that – I realized -I couldn’t grasp if I didn’t see them as people. My people.
My son boarded the yellow school bus and I was driving home alone. The streets were empty, the sun was up, the fog was slowly disappearing. I came home where my two little animal people were waiting for me, begging me to give them their canned breakfast. A mini-tiger and a mini-lion were purring and meowing. “And which side are you on?”, I asked. “The side of the wild or the side of the tamed?” “We are both”, they responded “We are a bridge that connects the world outside and the world inside. That bridge is our gift to you.”
“Thank you”, I said. “I do appreciate your willingness to renounce your wildness for our, human, company. I do appreciate the gift. “ I petted the kittens, and then curled next to them on the windowsill. Our six green eyes watched the wild, wild life on the other side of the window. We licked each other’s shiny fur and yawned. On the other side the bobcat was in the midst of devouring the little deer’s head. The baby coyote had just been run over by a reckless teenage driver. But we didn’t care. Lazily, we yawned and began to purr under the warm sun.
We will dream wild, wild dreams. In those, we will turn into ferocious tigers and dangerous lions. Mysterious and elusive, we will run free. We will devour baby deer and will get run over by reckless drivers. And then we will lazily open our eyes, turn over, yawn again and sleep some more.