How can your physical, emotional and spiritual bonds with animals enhance your sensitivities to the world around you?
That’s a question I’ve often asked myself. While dwelling on this subject last week, I realized there were three creatures that would be ideal for a bonding experience: the domestic fox, the Bengal cat and the ferret.
Luckily, all of these animals were actually “owned” (if one can ever truly own a sentient being) by people I knew, and it occurred to me that it was time I liberate them from their dreary domestic existence, just for one night.
So, early Monday morning, after my friends had left for work, I went into their houses and, armed with chunks of ground chicken, lured each curious critter into its own pet carrier. With the animals safely loaded into the back of my weather-beaten Ford pickup, I headed off to my special camping spot out by Sooke.
I was hoping my camping journey with my new animal brothers would teach me about my place in this world as a thoughtful, curious young man. What could I learn from the quick, sly fox, the playful Bengal cat and the mischievous ferret?
As I drove past Sooke, I hoped the answers would reveal themselves that evening while I was warmed by a crackling campfire and a belly full of mushroom stew.
After getting the fire going, I began to mix the ingredients for the hearty stew. A few promising test sips later, I decided to release the animals from their carriers and let the bonding process begin. The cat, fox and ferret excitedly leapt from the back of the truck to explore their surroundings. After taking a few more sips of stew to quell my hunger, I joined them for a short time, laughing and frolicking with them in the brush of the campsite before I found my child-like playfulness replaced by an overwhelming sense of calm. Time to sit back by the fire.
As the night fell, I continued to slowly lap up spoonfuls of stew while anticipating the creatures’ return to me by the campfire. They would share their wisdom with me. Ah, the fire! I was overcome by the blissful aroma of wood smoke blending with the misty ocean breeze, the heat, the beautiful multi-coloured light energies emanating from within.
And, sure enough, the trio did return. As if by ritual, each took its place in a separate corner by the fire. The four of us formed a perfect square around the flaming circle. In perfect synchronicity, they turned to gaze into my eyes, unblinking. I sat up uncomfortably, unsure of what to do next.
“Arnold . . . Arnold!” squeaked the ferret, finally breaking the tense silence.
“Yes?” I asked, with a slight quiver in my voice.
“You have chosen to make this journey with us to gain our wisdom.”
“I have,” I answered.
“Well . . .” growled the fox. “We’re here with you, now. What would you like to know?”
Hmmm, I thought. Where to start?
“Okay, Mr. Fox,” I started. “What is the meaning of life?”
“Simply put, the meaning of life is experience,” answered the fox. “We, you, everything in the universe, are all a unique expression of what some might call the divine, existing to experience its own uniqueness for no other reason than to experience it. And by the way, my name is Leonard.”
“All right,” I responded. “And is this experience leading towards something?”
“Perhaps,” said the ferret. “But don’t worry too much about trying to know everything there is to know. You are expressed into the universe as a creature with many capabilities and limitations, but those limitations are what make your life so interesting. Just remember to live life, keep an open mind, work hard and learn what you can, while trying to face your fears and grow from doing that, but never forget that life is about the journey, not the destination . . .”
“Amazing,” I answered. “Um, what do you have to tell me, Mr. Bengal cat?”
“We’re here to groove, baby,” he meowed in a low baritone. “Don’t lose your groove.”
With no more questions left to ask, we all sat silently by the fire. With an oddly satisfying feeling of numbness, I contemplated the animals’ wisdom well into the evening. I can’t recall falling asleep, but I awoke early in the morning, my body stirred to action by the sting of the crisp morning air.
I drowned the remaining embers of the night’s fire, packed up my belongings and headed for home. The fox, the cat and the ferret were nowhere in sight. I considered searching for them, but changed my mind, realizing they must have gone off on their own for further contemplation. As I started up the old pickup for my drive back to Fernwood, I knew the anger I would soon face from my friends would disappear after I told them about my experience the night before.