Well, Hi Everyone.
I finished Chapter Two!
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Chapter Two: My Life as a Dog
My parents have given me a lot of words: terms for nature, for colours, for laughter, expressions for threats and anger, even words of reconciliation; my education has given me a lot of names for emotions, and power structures, for the art of living life as it’s meant to be lived. My parents gave me the ability to notice things that are things. And learning has given me the ability to critically analyse them.
What I lack is the ability to maintain hope and optimism throughout the darkest of judgements, voices and thoughts.
I want to live.
But how? How?
Meditation is my lifeline. Every morning that I get up and I’m not in absolute suicidal despair I sit myself down quietly and lovingly and rehearse my day.
I start with my heart—I do it a little different every day, but I follow a similar structure. I open my heart in my imagination, and watch the green plants inside. There’s a light that swirls and streams, and I feel gratitude and kindness and happiness inside.
At these times, I know that the essence of me is just like the essence of every sentient being and the green and growing light in me is OK.
Next I do a few prana-yamas; then mindfulness for around 20mins-30mins.
After that I start to rehearse things I want to create: good health in my body, good things happening in my life, tiny moments of gladness and content. Things like holding a baby, cooking healthy food, improving at work or my university results getting better, social situations. I rehearse being in a garden with other people and working together towards a common goal. I rehearse other people’s health and happiness—Peter Cundall, Bob Brown, members of my friends and family, Julia Gillard, the Greek lady in the fish-and-chip shop. Gratitude.
I rehearse my reasons to live.
I have to say, whenever I do this, I feel good.
The good feelings pour out of my body and into my life.
And, for a while, I’m OK.
Some meditations are like a bump to my mid-section. They take my breath away.
Some ideas become sensations.
I love the feeling of life-force flowing through me with the force of a river and the will of a being that loves me intensely and wants good things for me… that feeling is like someone putting a finger on my solar-plexus and making my whole body convulse into bliss.
It may only be a thought—but it causes deep joy.
Strange, isn’t it?
Then suddenly the shames are back again. Mythical dark beings who come to my wire door to be fed but won’t let me trim their hair or de-louse them, or pet them or make friends with them. And if I get too close—their jaws clamp into my mid-section. And oh Lord do those bites hurt.
When I was growing up, we had a dog. We didn’t plan on getting a dog. A traumatised, thin, limping creature with brindled fur and soft silken ears turned up on our front step one day. My parents took him in. They paid for his food, they let my sister and I take him for walks, they even resentfully loved him. They got someone to mind him when we went away. He was microchipped according to council requirements. Occasionally he was bathed.
In summer, the flies would attack his ears. He would have 10 flies on each ear, and he’d flick his ears back, and flick them away, but the flies had learned he couldn’t do anything. In madness he’d rub his head in the dirt, but every summer he had open wounds on his ears.
I made my parents take him to the vet. I made my mother apply the cream. It didn’t help.
In winter, his fur started falling out. He had a rash on his body. His skin was red and raw and painful.
Again, I made my mother take him to the vet. He had an allergy to fleas. They gave us tablets, and frontline, and other things. It didn’t help.
He died an unhappy dog.
To whom do I owe my silence?
What do we owe the people who love us? What do we owe the people who hurt us?
My husband’s family had a dog too. Siobhan. They bought Siobhan at a pet shop. She had an allergy to fleas, too. One day my husband and I were talking, and he enumerated the steps that his family had taken to get rid of Siobhan’s fleas. What I noticed was that someone in his family had a problem, and the whole family had gotten together and made sure that Siobhan wasn’t suffering. What I noticed was that they cared.
My husband’s family takes good care of their things. My husband’s family takes good care of their lives. My husband’s family takes good care of each other.
Who is in charge of making sure that the sentient beings we live with are healthy and protected and loved?
When I was nine or ten, I started harming myself. I’m not really sure exactly what year it was, though I remember the moments vividly. I remember my Mother finding out about it when I was around twelve. She was shocked. She was worried. She was dismayed. For three days there was distress in our house. Then she accepted it and moved on.
And twelve-year-old me was left with a razor blade and my Dad’s words ringing in my ears “let her get on with it”.
Read Chapter One
Read Chapter Three
Read Chapter Four
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