Gifts From Life; Lessons From Death

 

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(photo of me taken by http://www.adithetos.com)

 “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

The other night as I was sitting and talking to a friend of mine we were talking about his 15 year old dog. He said “when she dies I will be devastated,” At that moment a memory came to me and I was filled with sadness ready to start bawling as I told the story. It has come up various times for me throughout my lifetime.

 

I was 8 or 9 years old. I am from a small island and tiny village. One day this stray dog came along. He looked like a sheep with his hair, you couldn’t even see his eyes it was so long. He was covered in dirt.

He kept trying to come into the school yard. People were not very animal friendly then and according to the teachers of course a dog doesn’t belong in the yard. A lot of kids were afraid of him too. I remember being impressed by his stubborn nature and upset at peoples insensitivity. The teacher would chase him out but he kept coming right back in. Eventually they closed the gates of the school so he could no longer come in. I would go to the gate and pet him from the inside whenever we had recess. He never left.

 

When school for the day ended I was waiting to be picked up by my parents and they were very late. I sat with him and petted him for a whole hour straight not once taking my hand away. I remember that hour specifically. He felt very comforted and nurtured and bonded with me, it was a deep bond.

 

When I left he ran after the car and followed until the house or he couldn’t keep up but somehow found the house don’t remember. My father didn’t want him ( me and my mom were the stray cat and dog gatherers all the time). He took him in the car and drove him back to the village. The same day the dog returned. My dad kept doing it every day but he kept on returning. He would come and sit outside the school waiting for me. My father finally gave in and we named him Boomerang.  🙂

 

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He would never leave my side and he was such a sweet, playful, pure soul. When I would walk to the village to play with the children he would follow me. The kids though didn’t like it. They felt he was interfering and some were afraid of him. I am crying my eyes out now that I am writing this.

One day he followed me down. Because he would not leave my side and just wanted to play with me it was interfering with us playing a ball game. The kids got angry at me and made a comment something along the lines that they don’t want to play with me if Boomerang was there and other things. I then got very angry at Boomerang and began chasing him off just for the duration of the games telling him to go home. He didn’t go home apparently he went around roaming exploring the village. I just remember getting so angry. He wasn’t really listening taking me seriously but eventually after some time he went off to do his thing. Apparently he had a girlfriend named Jessica another stray dog down at the village that he would go and hang out with.

There was this man in the village I am from. He did not like animals very much. In Greece we have many stray cats and dogs. He had chickens and was always afraid of them being killed. He would go around mostly at the end of the tourist season and put poison down killing an average of 15-30 cats and dogs. When he would find kittens or puppies he would wrap them in a garbage bag and through them away or throw them in the sea to drown.

My family and I lived outside of the village on a large magical land. We always had many dogs and cats that were free to go and come as they please. It seemed they had a network and would whisper to each other “hey there is this great house over there they will take care of you,” 🙂 Stray animals would always find us, and would be given an amazing free life.

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Boomerang would come down with me and while I played he roamed around the village with his girlfriend sometimes coming back with me and other times later.  A few days later after I had gotten angry at him, this man poisoned Boomerang along with five other stray dogs. I was home at the time that I found out and some children saw him do it.

I was devastated and since then I could never forgive myself for getting so angry at Boomerang that one day. It had a very deep impact on me especially losing him.

This man has poisoned countless of our dogs and cats. He killed the 2 dogs I was the closest too in my whole life. Moonlight and Boomerang. Two of my best friends.  I have watched many cats and dogs suffer for hours from being poisoned and then die.

 

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(Moonlight)

The other day as I had all this incredible emotion crying for hours about Boomerang’s death, I kept seeing the vision of this man. I never spoke to him after he killed Boomerang. He killed a lot more after. When he died at an old age, I remember saying “when is the party?”

I finally asked what is it about him? It was difficult but I eventually asked what was this man’s gift to me? Inside I felt the desire to forgive him but not knowing how. He caused pain and suffering to so many beings, and to friends and family how could I?  “How did he contribute to me and my family’s life?” I asked.  All I saw was pain from his actions, and my mother’s immense pain when one of the animals died. I saw hatred and anger. It was heartbreaking.

I got far more than I expected from asking these questions…….

I was always in communion with nature, A nature spirit.   I was raised on a beautiful magical land with incredible energy, on a small island. There were no neighbors, only the trees, sand dunes, plants, flowers, ocean, cats, dogs, birds, lizards, rabbits, and the various insects. My playground. It was so expansive and free. A few steps away from home was the beach basically our own private beach. The waves were my lullaby as I drifted off to sleep every night.

When I discovered a new plant, I sat down beside it for a minute or a day, to make its acquaintance and hear what it had to tell… I asked the boulders I met, whence they came and whither they were going.

John Muir

    The land at first was so barren, mostly sand. My parents planted trees everywhere, whom by the time of my adult hood had grown into massive trees transforming it into a jungle. The trees were my best friends.

What a gift it was to be raised among so many amazing trees and nature. We grew together, they were my playmates, my friends I was always out among them, playing beneath them, beside them, or climbing them. Truly such a gift and honor to have been able to experience that.

 

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(photo of me taken by http://www.adithetos.com)

     Even in adulthood this was my home, enjoying its wildness, lying at night in the sand dunes gazing at the stars. My time was always spent among the garden and our jungle, enjoying each moment and the beauty that surrounded me. My joy has always been exploring being in nature meeting new beings, insects, animals, birds, trees, and plants. There is an amazing creature everywhere you look!

One should pay attention to even the smallest crawling creature for these too may have a valuable lesson to teach us.

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   I always struggled to understand people’s view towards nature and animals. I felt, saw or perceived no difference, I never have.  The only difference is the difference we choose to give it. For me it made no sense, I struggled to understand.   As a child I remember getting so upset watching kids grab lizards and run around chasing after others to scare them, or every time there was a spider or insect and they would step on it. I could not understand it, and it broke my heart every time.  Or when I saw someone chase a stray dog or cat away. The fear and the anger.  “Why would anyone want to harm another living thing or not see it was alive?” I have always struggled immensely with this.

As I opened myself up I realized how much of an affect this man had on me and all the pain and suffering I observed around me. There was immense beauty and fun, love and nurturing, at all times, and at the same time these events would happen ever so often. The most difficult part was watching the affect it had on my mother, she would blame herself, cry for weeks, saying maybe if she had done this and that it would not have happened.

All this coming up now within me is not by accident!  I LOVE trees and I share a very deep connection and bond with them. From many years ago my vision was to create a different view on them. I had this vision of creating change on a deep level on the perception of trees and nature. I always have but on a small scale yet I always wanted to do it on a large scale. I have had many people tell me “I will never have the same view of trees and forests after you,” when I hear that my being lights up!

I started writing a series of children stories on trees. When I come across a tree I write a story for it so these books will be composed of them and the first one will be out soon.

However I have had an idea which is mainly geared towards children and utilizing my fairy tale story writings. And now the day before this came up I decided I was finally going to start it! I kept saying well in the future because I need this and that, and it is a huge operation with many people in different areas of expertise etc. but I finally said “I can just start it NOW and then it can expand and grow.” I can start. Finally I can start something that has been my dream my whole life.

A tree is our most intimate contact with nature.
–  George Nakashima

   My purpose of this “business,” I am going to create is to give a voice to trees and give a voice to children. This comes from my feeling as a child, my perception and awareness but yet as a child not being heard. Well this is an opportunity to change this.  I am going to create a revolution on tree awareness no matter what anyone says or thinks! That has always been my dream. This is me, sharing my intimate connection, awareness, perception and love of trees with the world.

 

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(photo of me taken by http://www.adithetos.com)

This decision to step into me and be me brought up these events from my childhood. It was always something that blocked me getting emotionally caught up in the “sad” part of what happens in the world. The destruction of nature…my family just like every other being on the planet. From this I came to a deep awareness…..

This man was my greatest gift. Truly. He is the one that gave me a different view, an outside view. I had my view my awareness yet I needed also to see the other side, a different perspective. He was the spark of my fire to create change in the world, to be me, to speak up and allow my soul to express what she feels and perceives. Because of him I am now going to share who I am with the world, share my knowledge. We all have our unique gifts and awareness’s to shape the course of life. My being required to be able to handle this other aspect, it made me strong, very strong, and capable.  Perhaps he never had the opportunity to see another side to his perception of animals and life. Most of us don’t. He was functioning from the view point that stray cats and dogs were a nuance, unimportant with no value.

More important he demonstrated to me my own unique awareness and gift.  He showed me what I would like to see change in the world.

    Do I forgive him? Most definitely. And it is such a relief. To not feel that negative feeling but to feel grateful for all that he taught me.

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul.”

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

These upsetting moments did not change who I was they did not alter the beauty I saw all around me. There are SO MANY beautiful amazing miraculous aspects of life. There is also sadness, cruelty or at least what we perceive to be so. It is simply a lack of awareness though.  Seeing a small pebble when there is an entire ocean surrounding it. If we focus on the energy of that which is not us, the negative, that is what will be. But it is not real. YOU are real.

For example every day, all day I had fun happy loving moments with my dog Boomerang. We shared so much but yet for some reason we cling to that one moment when something “bad,” happened and forget everything else.  We give so much of our power away to the outside world and to the negative, sad events or moments when there truly are so many gifts in every moment of the day all around us. When we focus on that part that is not us it stops our natural breath and flow, our being, blocking us from being who we are and creating change in the world. The only way to change anything is through you and by sharing your unique gift of awareness with the world. You do not have to try and do anything or change anything, it all happens on its own, and it starts within, from you being yourself.

 “You see everybody thinks there is something to change, no, no, no, there is something to be. There is just something to be. Be you.”

-Ra Uru Hu

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 It did not end here. I received even more awareness on my view of death….

I always perceived death differently it never touched me that much as I do not believe in death. I always had a knowing that it is alright, it is each person’s time, it is simply difficult for those left behind not having that person there with them physically. That is for humans I viewed it this way. Most times I viewed it the same for animals as well since I have been around so much of it however when it came to the “destruction,” of the environment, to nature, cutting down of trees, polluting oceans etc.  I viewed it differently.  It was wrong and devastating. Here I am saying there is no difference and feeling there is no difference between an insect animal, tree, human, plant but yet when that died I viewed it as something wrong. I made a separation. Ironic ha? Quite funny. It is meant to be for humans but not for nature? I just realized this, that I was making a separation there. I was judging the right way of dying and the wrong unjust way. Is there really such a thing though? Perhaps what we perceive as harming might not be so and visa versa?

Both are not right or wrong it just is.  Both are ok and not ok. Both are terrible and beautiful. Everything is meant to be and not meant to be.  I kind of did the reverse of the world. I was actually denying the strength of nature and all its inhabitants. Now I feel different about it. Yes it is terrible what we are doing to the environment, to each other, sometimes, all it is however is a lack of awareness, an opportunity to learn acceptance of the other no matter what species, size,  color of skin or fur. To be our differentiated self and let the other be their differentiated self as well.

Can death not be a gift as well? Of course it can be. Everything can be.  Is everything the way it should be? I don’t know? Can we ever know for sure no? All I know is what I feel and perceive about nature and world for me.

 

“Reversing deforestation is complicated. Planting a tree is simple.”

-Martin O’ Malley

 

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It gets even deeper…..

When I was going through all of this yesterday. What came to mind was a baby hedgehog I found once abandoned by his mother. I named him Sonic. He was so freaking cute and just adorable! I would feed him with a syringe every three hours and he loved to curl up in his little ball and sleep on my stomach. I had a week long photo exhibition at the time so I would take him with me. He was too young though and needed to be stimulated to go to the bathroom like a kitten or maybe he was sick that’s why he was abandoned but even though he was doing great I couldn’t get him to go to the bathroom and he eventually passed away. I was so upset about that. He was so precious. I felt terrible that I couldn’t assist him to survive.

 

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Then I proceeded into the memory of Saki a Jackson chameleon I had whom I was very close to my mom called him the only grandchild she will ever have, I think she was right hahahaha. I had him in Hawaii when I was at university he was always free and loved to hang out on the curtain rod but mostly on me, I took him everywhere. He was my spoiled brat. When I went back home to Greece for a couple of months I left him with an acquaintance. She had one too but in a cage. While I was gone hers got sick and then he did too and they both died. That was something I felt terrible about. As he was not used to being in a cage, he was free, and we were super close, that would have been quite a transition so my thought was I left him.

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Further when I was feeling how difficult it is to see this ”insensitivity.” of people I had the memory of when I was going on a hike with a large hiking group, that we used to go every Sunday. We were car pooling this day and driving up the mountain. This car came rushing down speeding, I remember feeling my heart not feeling good. The lineup of cars got slow and I looked ahead and saw all the cars were going around something. I had the feeling “oh no” sure enough when we got closer I saw something hurt on the road. The person that was driving didn’t stop I told her to and basically jumped out of the car. There was a baby lamb hit by that car that came rushing down. It was bleeding heavily. I grabbed it and held it until it died. I just remember being so upset at everyone, on how they just ignored it when continued on their way no one cared no one talked about. The whole hike I just felt I no longer want to be around these people. I just felt where am I? How could no one care? You had this amazing little creature there.

Yesterday morning when I emailed my mother and asked her a few things about Boomerang one of the things she said was he looked like a sheep and followed you everywhere I used to say it’s like Mary had a Little lamb and she recited the song or whatever it is. I did not realize it right away but yet she also was pointing  something to me subconsciously.

I judged everyone else for driving away and not stopping yet what would have happened if they did? Would it have been a contribution to the baby lamb? Or would it have made it even more difficult having all these humans around her, talking loudly in fear, and in sadness and throwing that all on to her? Not very peaceful is it? Them not stopping allowed me to be a contribution to the lamp which I knew I could be. I made her feel safe, nurtured, as she took her last breaths. Things are not always the way they appear are they?  I was seeing them as being insensitive yet that was purely my point of view on it, the way I was viewing it, perceiving it. What if they were actually being a contribution to the lamb by not stopping? That is the truth.

One of my gifts has always been comforting  animals and therefore helping them transition into death. I always have animals coming to me right before their death. Sometimes obvious and other times not obvious, yet internally I always know. I had accepted that but I guess not fully my judgment of their death or the feeling that it is sad that such a beautiful creature had to depart would keep me not wanting to see it as much.

The truth is Boomerang would have died no matter what I did or did not do. He either would have roamed around the village alone then killed or we could have shared that beautiful loving time we did together before his death. Same thing with Sonic, instead we both got to be gift to each other before. Maybe Sakis would have died too.

I will tell you another story some years ago I found another Jackson chameleon. He was old and weak and in bad condition when I found him. One of his horns was broken. I took him home and we instantly bonded. I named him Euripidis. He had a hard time eating I would have to be very patient with him sticking out his tongue and not missing to catch his cricket. I adored him. Euripidis’s favorite spot was my hair where he slept most of the time. I knew inside I was just prolonging his life he wouldn’t last very long.  Euripidis was such a special friend, and he was teaching me something. He stayed with me for about five months. I was not being myself and I wanted to move but I felt I couldn’t because of him. I said I would not leave him because he would die. “No one would take the time to take care of him so he could eat and they would put him in a cage.” “I am not leaving him.” One day I said to my friend “the only way I will leave is if Euripidis dies.” You know what happened? The next day he did. I held him in my hand for several hours as he was having difficulty breathing and I did not want him to die, then I finally said to him: “Ok, it’s ok you can go now,” as soon as I did a minute after he passed away. He was so special. When talking to my mother she said: “he passed away for you so you can move on,” that is what I felt too.

 

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The true me is not the getting caught up in the emotions and seeing life as cruel or negative, it never had been. I can perceive it all and feel it all however it is not who I am.  The true me is and has always been seeing life as this glorious beautiful gift around every corner. A mystical land full of fun and adventure and magic in everyone and everything.

Both the trees, nature, people, the fun amazing beautiful parts of life have been a teacher and a gift just as much as this man and the “cruel”, “sad’ things I have seen or experienced. And I can tell you for certain there is a lot more beauty in life then there is “destruction.”

The journey of being more of me has began…

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“Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach of us more than we can ever learn from books.”

–John Lubbock

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