“She took my hand and we both took to flight. This time the feel of the air and the overall view of the valley were even more intense than my arrival had shown, the colors deeper, and the air was alive with an energy of its own. A swift change came over it all as we flew back. All of the colors shifted into a vivid field of violet light, yet the features of the valley were still visible as inexplicable variations in contrast. This was a place I could have stayed for eternity, a place of abstractions so strange that it was a comfort to be there with a friend’s hand in mine, far from any familiar world I could imagine. But my return to my body was mandated by my own choice.” ~ Ken Ebert, Theater of Clouds
The opening quote is from my book Theater of Clouds. I’m doing my periodic – what my friend Rick Strassman calls – shameless self promotion. I’m giving Rick’s books a little plug as well. Check out the link. In the quote I am describing, as best I can, the return to the Earth plane during my NDE journey. Beyond doubt, a visionary journey such as an NDE is certainly ineffable, or what Terence McKenna called “unlanguagable”. It took me nearly 20 years to feel comfortable in putting the experience into words. Overall it took 27 years between the NDE and publication of the book. Pretty much my life’s work. Nice. It was not easy!
The opening photo is of Cooper, an Anatolian Shepherd who used to reside at the shelter where I once worked. That’s something that is on my mind this morning: compassion. Part of the difficulty, a large part, in getting the NDE story into words was my failure to recognize the need for self-compassion. As for sweet Cooper, who did get adopted, the level of compassion that is demanded in shelter work where you handle animals is daunting. There is a technical term for it – compassion fatigue – and many handlers cling to the term in relating to their work. It does get exhausting. But since my departure from the shelter I have come to realize that the term is really more of a crutch. A certain amount of detachment is needed, sure. Trauma surrounds you as you work. You get sucked in. There is no avoiding it. You have to take care of yourself. That’s what my former psychiatrist said when I told her the term. She laughed and said that it come down to simply taking good care of yourself, that no label was needed. I agree. I found that viewing myself as any kind of hero was more exclusive than it was inclusive. It is somewhat analogous to aspiring to transcend the ego. That aspiration itself is an ego game. Just being there for the animals is something that is hardwired into our DNA. Societal expectations and labels don’t cut it. You have to be there fully, unless the animal says no, and sets boundaries on the level of intimacy that will be tolerated. The animals are being deprived of their freedom through incarceration. The reason that “Liberty pirouettes” here is that She is teaching us that freedom takes many forms, many of which morph as they go along. The human handler ought to offer whatever freedom they can for the animals. That is why I stress respect for boundaries. Humans often ignore such boundaries in human relations. But full regard and respect for those dictated by the animals is all you really have to work with.
Laundry day today. I’ve got some tasks to complete this afternoon but creativity will be needed there, so it should be fun. Then back to work tomorrow. Let’s leave it at that.
Peace out, y’all. Goof gloriously.