Monday, April 03, 2006

Beautiful Bones

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
— Ralph Waldo Emerson

Over the weekend I found myself deeply missing Oolong's physical presence — the kittens are so different, so young, so unsettled — so unlike old, wizened, creaky O.

The next day my friend Kate and I took a long walk into the woods and up to the hill where we had buried O's body last year — and found that someone had removed stones from the grave which enabled something — a dog or wild animal — to dig up her remains. Her beautiful fur was scattered around with a few bones, and I found the top part of her skull a few feet away. It seemed so impossibly small, most of it taken up by the huge eye sockets, revealing the deep nocturnal nature of the species. The top teeth were very tiny and perfectly formed, and I gently ran my thumb over them, feeling her closer to me than I had in many months.

I thought about bringing the skull back with me, but realized that its place was in the ground, in the earth, to continue to be reabsorbed back into that from which it had come. I found a much larger rock, which I could barely lift, and placed it on the grave after gathering up as much of the bits of dirt-encrusted fur and bones and shreds of the shroud that had been a linen shirt that I could find. Kate watched me struggle with putting the skull back and then with the rock in silence; both were heavy. I was very sad for the rest of the day, and could not remember the kittens' names, calling them "Oolong" instead.

Naturally one tends to look for the messages and meanings behind the synchronous ten thousand things of this dreamscape we call "life." We want to see the design in the great infinite weaving as clearly as possible — what's this a picture of? Nothing has come to mind, yet, because my mind needs to be quiet while my heart processes the grief that continues to be part of the experience of O's transition. Intuitively, I know that there are layers upon layers of meaning and messages in an experience such as this. Along with the actual manifestation, there arrives along with them feelings, both simple and complex. These feelings, which usually give rise to thoughts, combine with the thoughts to create emotions, also simple and complex. We can often get "carried away" by emotions, to mental and psychological places that seem to offer safety if we are feeling threatened by the manifestation -- although it's really the thoughts about the manifestation that we find threatening, not the manifestation itself. Thus, I stay present with the feelings, labeling them neither "good" nor "bad" in order to not be carried away. Some may see this as courageous and others, as avoidance — but really, it's nothing of the sort. Rather, it's merely "acceptance of what is, without labeling what is."

The truth revealed by acceptance is something of beauty, and meant to be looked at. The primal message, then, is "accept this beautiful thing as best as one can."