Oh, I so don’t want to write this. And chances are, by tomorrow I’ll delete or, or bury it in the back of a file to never see the light of day, but it wants to be written, and I won’t get back to sleep until I do… Its 3am, and the earth gently shook us awake – I’m currently sitting in the middle of the “Ring of fire”, and little shakes are a very common occurrence. In itself, it probably wouldn’t have woken me, but, just dozing, my brain was racing and flighting with my heart, so any excuse to get up, right? (P.S. #1. It wasn’t such a gentle little shake – at 4.7 it was a big enough bounce…)
This whole Covid 19 thing has every one a little shook up. But it strikes me from a different angle. I don’t see people scared to die, but people who are scared to live.
I helped to treat a cat yesterday / today (depending on how you see 3am, it really is the middle of the night in my books….) He looked dead, lying in his cage, and part of the reason I’m sitting doing this is to wait for light to go and see if he is a dead patient or a live patient in his hospital bed. He’d been brought in, badly dehydrated, eyes and nose pus-filled and gummed shut, very weak and skinny. My friend said – he won’t live and went to get the right drugs, and as I sat with him, I said, please can we try… A saline drip, some anti-biotic, clean swabs to wipe his eyes and mouth. My heart agreed, give him the magic blue stuff and let him sleep. My brain got in the way – we can save him; he deserves a fighting chance. (P.S. #2….. The cat didn’t make it. I went to check him this morning, but he’d gone in the night. I’m a little bit sad…)
Years ago, a friend and I were working in a yard, where there were some ancient, almost blind and toothless old ponies who were still wheeled out for the tiny kids lead rein walks. We, privately, called them “The Walkers”. As in, the walking dead. The mind and the brain – they aren’t the same thing at all. The brain can make the heartbeat, and the gut digest, the legs move. But, just because the brain is functioning, doesn’t mean the mind is at home.
In horses we have a name for this – learned helplessness. The horse has tried to work out the world, he has tried to fight back against too much pressure, an unfair workload, or a bad situation, and been forced through his literal kicking over of the traces. He can’t fight back anymore, and so slips into learned helplessness, where his body complies, but his eyes betray him.
I don’t think I’m scared to die. I’m not about to jump off the roof – don’t worry – but when my time comes, it’s ok. The secret is – we’re all dying, right? Death and taxes. And, sadly, this virus is making an awful lot of people face this awfully fast. But, it isn’t just the fear of dying. It’s the fear of financial collapse, and the fear of losing someone close to you, the fear of the unknown, the fear of…? The fear of thinking, maybe you’re not bullet proof.
What makes me sad, is how many people out there are walkers already, and it’s those people who are most scared about this. They get up in the morning, they get dressed, they go to work. They come home, they have dinner, they go to bed. And in the morning, they get up, they get dressed and they go to work. Their brain is driving them, but they have lost their soul. Someone recently was telling me about the difference between motivation and inspiration. The motivated keep being motivated to get up, get dressed and go to work. The inspired, live.
I’ve been involved with many, many horses and animals who have died. When you rescue them, many don’t survive. I understand why the suicide rate in vets and animal rescue is so high. Often, more often than people realize, my threat to go hammock testing and give up on horses isn’t a joke. As I sat, holding that cat, there is a huge internal conflict – let him die peacefully, with two people who care, or stuff him full of drugs that probably won’t help him and leave him alone in a cage, to die without someone near. And when I deal with a horse who is shut down because his owner is too competitive, or a horse who is sore because someone hasn’t noticed how bad his saddle is – I could walk away and not come back.
But if I do walk away, how much will I become one of the walking dead myself? For whatever reason, animals and I are so intrinsically connected. Recently I was talking to someone about how often I come into contact with animals, just to help them die. She said, it’s an honour, like being midwife to their soul. I can’t go that far – but sometimes it’s the gift you can give them when they’ve suffered too much already. And, if and when I do walk away from the horses, I know I’ll disconnect with a part of me.
This virus, I think, is asking people to reconnect with that part of themselves, the part that I’d lose. The part that many people are scared to wake up. It’s asking people to sit quietly. (Oooh, that’s so my challenge…) It’s asking them to re-evaluate. It’s asking them to ask, if I don’t do my normal, what else is possible? It’s asking you to sit still with your horse, your cat, your dog, your family, your own mind, and reconnect. Years ago, a bank had the slogan – “Where will your spark take you”. I’ve always loved that concept. The virus is asking people to find their spark, because so many people have lost it. I, personally, need to process some stuff, I need to see what is possible, and, in coming to a little speck of a tropical island, I’ve got time for debating what is possible. The timing, for me, couldn’t have been better.
What’s possible for you? Where is your spark going to take you, on your new adventure, post Covid 19?