Tuesday, April 15, 2008

All It Takes Is Animal Instinct

So apparently there is hope for Spring afterall. I was seriously beginning to think Persephone had forgotten the Northeast after wintering in Hades (it's so easy to mistake Florida for The Underworld), and we would be stuck in the freezer until I left for San Diego. I was picturing loading a truck in a snowfall in late May at this rate. However, I opened the French door this morning and stood on the step for a few minutes taking in a less-chilly sun while I sipped my tea, and as I looked across the few brave patches of backyard grass the dog hasn't peed into non-existence, I saw Mr. and Mrs. Duck standing on the deck of the neighbor's pool preening their feathers. Yay!

The Ducks are a pair of rogue mallards that wander our neighborhood every Spring for about three months. They never have babies (here, anyway) and they don't fly with a group like normal ducks, but they show up every year like an old retired couple that have wings instead of an RV. The humans on our cul-de-sac enjoy their company because The Ducks are very comfortable with people and will sit with you on the lawn while you admire the day (as long as you don't make a move to pet them, which the kids are want to do). No one is looking to domesticate them, but we do give them bits of whole grain bread once in awhile (not enough to make them dependent), and Mrs. Duck will occasionally jump onto my front porch and look in our glass door like "Hello? Is anyone home?" She's never actually knocked with her beak, but I wouldn't be surprised if she did. If I take a bowl of water out and sit on the step, she'll bathe, then preen her feathers while I talk to her. Sometimes she'll make a few soft quacking noises at me, contributing to the conversation. (I'm not kidding. These ducks are smart.)

Mr. Duck disappears for days at a time. The first couple years he was gone so long I thought surely he was hit by a car, but he always shows up again in the end. One time I thought I saw him down at the pond with a bunch of other mallards and thought, "You dog! Sneaking off to the Pond without your wife!" Maybe they have an open relationship, or maybe it was just another duck that looked like him. Mallards are pretty hard to tell apart.

Sometime in late May/early June when the days are longest, they disappear to their summer home, wherever that may be, but they've shown up again in Spring every year for the five years we've lived here. Since they go by Mother Nature's clock even more so than me, they're my true marker for when Spring starts. The Ducks are one of the things about the NE that I'll miss terribly next year when I'm in San Diego. :(

Wild animals that accept humans are the best pets because you only have to give them your love and admiration; otherwise they take care of themselves just like we do. They are a beautiful example of harmony in nature, and proof that people and animals COULD all coexist on this planet peacefully if we would give it a chance and control our huge egos.

I think people-animal relationships should be by mutual consent, just like people-people relationships are.* This includes the realm of hunting. Lots of people think I'm vegetarian because I advocate organic eating (not the same), and I often get along better with animals than people, but I don't oppose hunting if it's done right for food purposes (definitely NOT just sport).** Unfortunately, I think 99% of hunters have lost sight of the spiritual aspect of it, and therefore it has become an event without compassion which serves no one well. But I digress...

Mutual consent relationships with our pets are definitely more joyous and therefore more beneficial overall. If our pets could speak English, I'm sure many of them would tell us how unhappy they are being cooped up in the human idea of housing. As it is, they do tell us in their actions, but most people are not aware enough to hear what the animal is saying. These people like The Horse/Dog Whisperer or so-called "pet psychics" are so full of shit. They're just super observant manipulative humans and I think it's a shame they've used their talents only to make money instead of educating the population on how you, too, can easily communicate with your pets. Anyone can do it. You just open your eyes and your mind.

There was a comic I saw once that did a great bit on the issue - I wish I could remember who it was, but I can't even find it on Google. He went through this whole thing about how his girlfriend claims her cat loves her back - he did the voices of both people... something like:

As girlfriend: "Awww, mommy's wittle putty tat wuvs her, doesn't he? He would never weave mommy aw awone!" ::nuzzling noises::

As himself: "Yeah? You think your cat loves you? You're sure?"

As girlfriend: "Yes, I'm sure wittle wuvkins wouldn't weave..." More baby talk and nuzzling.

As himself: "If you're so sure, open the door motherfucker."

That really says it all because we all know it's true of most pets. If given the chance, they'd be gone. And they'd be okay too because animals weren't meant to stay indoors most of their lives (including us).

I live with six exotic animals (four chinchillas and two lizards) that I "rescued" from less involved owners, and they are all in cages. You may say this is hypocritical, but having these animals in my life (and many that have come before them that also tried to teach me) is how I've woken up to these realizations. I observe my animals closely and I see that no matter how many "toys" or varied treats I provide, they are basically bored and in jail. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, much less someone or something I love! If I could find a way to release my pets safely back into the wild in their native territory I'd do it, but unfortunately that's not something I have the resources for right now (chinchillas and iguanas come from South America, the leopard gecko is native to Pakistan). Since I can't do anything to put them back where they belong, I've promised to make them as comfortable as I can while they are here, and I won't take any more in as the ones I have leave me. I accept that I can only do so much as one person, and I'm of the mind that leading by example and educating others is the key to restoring some balance.

I do believe there are some cats and dogs that prefer to be with people, as evidenced by the fact that they don't escape the house or the leash as if they're making a prison break, but we are too impatient to wait for them to find us, or when they do we're either not paying attention or we force our will upon them instead of inviting them to stay and leaving the option to go open. Our dog is one of these truly domesticated beasts - you can let her outside and she doesn't go past the yard. We have no fence, no electric collar, and we've never trained her that way - she just prefers to be here, which makes me happy. My boyfriend got her from the pound before I met him, so technically she's his dog, and she will stay with him when I move (very sad!), but the point is she does choose to stay with us. But for the most part I think pets put up with our anthropomorphism because they have no choice.

Well all that is totally NOT what I planned to blog about today, but there it is. Must be a reason for it. I'll post my thoughts on Jason Mraz's concerts in PA and NYC tomorrow I guess.

*Note to self: blog soon about how we make agreements with other souls before manifesting in the physical.

**That's a whole 'nother blog too, but refer to ancient Native American beliefs about respect for the animal to get an inkling of what I'm talking about.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Ain't Nothin Pointless About This Gig

When I was little - knee-high to a grasshopper as they say - Mom had a vinyl record that I loved to listen to over and over, by an artist named Harry Nilsson. This record was not your typical record. It had music on it for sure, but it also had a story - a very pointed story - and that story was appropriately called, The Point.

So far in my lifetime, I haven't met anyone who remembers this story when I ask if they've heard of it, which I find a little strange (and sad since it was an excellent piece of entertainment), but I did find some movie captures from the DVD on YouTube so I know I'm not the only one that finds it enchanting.

If you read the Wikipedia information on Nilsson, he's had his hand in everything from The Muppet Show to My Name is Earl, but not many people seem to recall who he was offhand. His career seemed a bit jinxed. The two songs you would probably recognize are "Coconut" (...you put the lime in the coconut and drank 'em both up...) and Everybody's Talkin' (yes, that one: everybody's talkin at me/I can't hear a word they're saying/only the echoes of my mind...), but I'll bet you wouldn't have been able to recall it was him that sang those. I was also surprised to learn from Wikipedia how connected to the The Monkees he was. I loved everything about The Monkees when I was a kid! And although I knew Ringo Starr did the narration on the DVD of The Point, I didn't realize how connected he was to the Beatles as well. But I digress...

In hindsight, I can see how this story may have influenced my thinking in a very positive way for the rest of my life. I can't tell you how many times a line or song would come to mind long after the LP disappeared. It's probably been a good 20+ years since I've owned a copy of it, so I went looking for it online the other night.

I know the record has been out there the whole time, and is out there still, available this very moment on Amazon in fact. I just don't understand why, in this recent age of apparent awakening of the Collective Conscious, it hasn't taken off like a shot. Maybe Oprah hasn't heard of it yet.

I'm here to tell you though, if you enjoy wordplay and double entendre, the message behind the message, and an enlightened kind of thinking, you should buy this story because you will love listening to it over and over, no matter how old you are. If nothing else, buy it for your kids (or nieces, nephews, etc.) because they will be better people for listening to it and being influenced by the ideas.

The story starts:

Years ago there was a place called The Land of Point, and that was because everything in The Land of Point had one. The barns, the houses, the carts, everything. Even the people. Everyone in The Land of Point had a point on the top of his head. Everyone, that is, with the exception of Oblio.

Now, although Oblio was born to a set of normally pointed parents, and although he was born physically perfect in every other respect, he was born without a point. He was round-headed. And as time passed, Oblio became increasingly aware of his uniqueness, and so did everyone else. Which made life in The Land of Point rather uncomfortable for him, and his parents.

You see, Oblio became sort of an involuntary celebrity and he was subject to the sometimes cruel and unusual harassment from his schoolmates. It wasn't easy being the only pointless person in the whole Land of Point. And in an effort to make life easier, his mother knitted a pointed cap for him to wear. It was to conceal his pointless condition, but it didn't do much good because everyone knew he didn't have a point, so it only managed to make Oblio a little lonelier. In fact, the only real friend he had was his dog, Arrow.

Nilsson's song Me and My Arrow comes in here on the audio recording. After that the narration goes on to describe how Oblio and Arrow win a game against the villain of the story, are put on trial, and are consequently banished to the Pointless Forest (which turns out to be not so pointless after all). In their travels, they meet many interesting characters, but my favorite is The Rock Man.

After a journey through The Pointless Forest, Oblio and Arrow return to the Land of Point with a new point of view, which they share with the villagers. Something very interesting happens then, but I don't want to spoil the end, so you'll just have to find out what The Point is for yourself. :)

The original audio recording is so much better than the DVD in my opinion (except for the wisdom of The Rock Man, which was expanded in the animated version). I've always thought plain audio (or books for that matter) are better because they allow your imagination the freedom to create its own scenes and characters. Don't get me wrong, I love movies too and I see a lot of them, but you can't always allow Hollywood to do all the work for you.

Anyway, I'm sure you get The Point. :D