When far from life in the wild, relationships with animals are often through pets. We find kinship and difference in our friends of very foreign origin. Pets let us be tender, elicit nurturing, and help heal trauma through secure attachment. Our creatures keep our secrets. They accept our lapses and shadows. They invite us to play and appear in our dreams–and when they are gone, we mourn.
Henry Beston said, “In a world older and more complete than ours [animals] move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.” Through our pets we can stay in touch with the magic and mystery of animal life. They remind us that we are part of a larger, living whole.
The dream began when I found myself climbing up a steep snowy ledge on a tall cliff. There was a trail of footsteps, as if I had been there before. As I trekked upwards I contemplated my teenage years of debauchery and the lies I told to keep my mother comfortably unaware.
As the cliff’s edge got steeper the snow became much deeper and I continued on all fours, with exhaustion setting in. Upon reaching the top I almost ate some snow feeling, overwhelmed with gratitude, but quickly realized what a poor decision that could potentially be. (Thinking of dirty snow) So I let my body sink into an icy cold bed of snow instead, relaxing all my muscles and regulating my breath at the journeys end.
It felt gratifying to have reached the top, and the sensation of cold snow felt incredible against my skin. I looked up and noticed a small alcove, inside under dark shadows stirred the silhouette of a large raven. Mysterious yet significant, nodding its head toward me as if it had been waiting for my arrival.
Henry Beston. The Outermost House: A Year of Life On The Great Beach of Cape Cod (Amazon).