I have always been a fan of songs like Secret Love, A Summer Place, Moon River, Je t’attendrai (“I will wait for you,” after which our sanctuary is named) – even extending to the classical – Die Schöpfung, La Traviata, Chopin, Rachmaninoff . . . what a lot of people would call a combination of overly romantic exuberance and melancholia. Maybe, but, to a one, they share a common theme – love of life and the possibility, the reality of a world made entirely of love. I don’t care what you say, I won’t live in a world without love. This is the world of Animals.
Yes, Wolves kill Moose, and Leopard Seals, Puffins. You might protest and say that one could hardly call that love. True, but if you look deeper, none of these individual eaters ever leave the world of love. Nonhuman life is cohered by love. That is why you see the self-same Seal spending days helping what she perceives as a diver in dire danger, an Octopus bothering to respond to the overtures of a human, a mother Brown Bear taking a man under her wild wing to help him raise his baby Bears. They are all lessons in how most humans make too much and too little of death. None of these individuals take a life thoughtlessly. Any act in the wild is an act of courage. Attention focused on procuring food is accompanied by inattention as to what and who may be standing by and so everyone is clearly aware that there, but for the grace of God, go I. . .Living is pursued with deep appreciation and parsimony.
Maman Doe whom I have known for over a decade has had more than her share of pain and loss yet life’s cord of joy has never broken. Despite the ravages of injury, violence of hunting, and witnessing the scores and scores of fallen children and friends, gasping from the agony of human betrayal and the searing injustice of arrows and bullets, she retains original grace and light. Mourning weeds are now plainly visible, but when she walks, the air carries the complexity of Chopin’s Preludes, where the fullness of sadness, love and all of life submerge into one. I see that in every Animal I have known.
Every song, every symphony is marked by a particular key- a group of notes that dominate the tune. But every key contains all the notes. So does life. There are tragedies, horrors, ecstatic joys, and luminous revelations. Our lives span all the notes. The question we must ask and answer for ourselves is: In what key do you want to sing life?
~ Dedicated to Tommy ~
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