Went on a sort of mini retreat this past weekend. Babysat for my nephew’s dogs. Two tiny creatures that seem to think they are human beings of another sort. José is a miniature Doberman with incredibly clear and detailed markings and long spindly legs that look fragile but aren’t. Cuervo is a squat densely built Chihuahua mix that looks bow legged, built low to the ground but with enough personality to make up for any lack of height.
And yes, when I sing softly, “José Cuervo, [Shelley West] you are a friend of mine, I like to drink you with a little salt and lime …,” they come running to sit diligently at my feet with cocked heads and bemused looks of what I choose to see as adoration. Of course, I could be wrong.
I have thought that after I leave, as they curl up alongside one another, José might yawn as he turns to Cuervo and say, in dog speak, “That’s one crazy lady always telling us that story about bar fights, shooting out lights, and dancing on table tops.” And Cuervo, yawning as he curls himself even tighter says on a sigh, “Si, a bit loco, but she sure knows how to scratch ears.”
Exciting, no. But quiet and fruitful. I spent the time coloring and doing a bit of reading, Dean Koontz and The Good Guy. Also, when it wasn’t raining, I sat out on the backyard patio which is densely populated with potted plants and flowers of every kind and hue. That was a feast for the eyes and food for the soul of this colorist. And Dean Koontz, as he always seems to do, offered up a thought provoking quote:
Sorrow is not a raven perched persistently above a chamber door. Sorrow is a thing with teeth, and while in time it retreats, it comes back at the whisper of its name.
I think that sorrow might have many different names, but this weekend I couldn’t help but relate it back to the Wild Thing I had so recently written about here. That thing with teeth that howls inside of us when dismissed or ignored. That piece of our creatureliness that is self calling to self, to remember who and what we truly are.
In that sense, sorrow’s name could be loneliness, that strong feeling sense of something missing that occasionally rises like a wave, threatening to sweep us away from any and all moorings. The genuine yearning for true self.
In my last post, I spoke of hearing that howl. And this weekend I spent time completely alone with two small creatures who are just a bit on the wild side. I don’t think any of us was lonely. I certainly wasn’t. I had uninterrupted time to answer that call and did so, satisfied with my endeavors and the mutual affection that surrounded all three of us.
Wild Things have teeth. They also have claws and wiry strength. They must, in order to survive in the dark shadowed wilderness they are forced to inhabit. They can be both persistent and tenacious, holding on for years and years. So what does one do about that?
They are wild, so capturing and possessing them is out of the question. They must be wooed, courted. Which means one must enter their space and simply sit quietly and listen. Make one self available and learn whatever language they speak. Not an easy task, but the rewards can be profound. I know because I came away from this past quiet weekend with four new images and the words of three new poems dancing (yes, on table tops) inside of my head. Not a bad outcome for being alone with two small creatures who sometimes snarl and growl.
When they do, I snarl and growl right back. They go still, and then tentatively snarl, so I growl back and we go at it for a few minutes and then all sit back on our haunches and grin at one another. I do wonder, at times, if they simply recognize and are drawn by that wild thing that resides in me and in them as well.
How often do you set aside, or make time to simply sit and listen to that wild thing inside of you? Do you occasionally bare your fangs, snarl and growl, then find laughter in that quiet companionship? Have you learned that other language that is lonely and seeks something of its own kind? Have you ever heard self calling to self, and allowed yourself to experience the sorrow and yearning that might entail? Sorrow that can only be healed by you. Sorrow that has many names and one of them might be The Wild Thing.