Notes from Islas Secas

The raccoon speaks of trees and suffering that should not be – the kind we humans have no will to do anything about (it’s not that we can’t). She comes uninvited with her message, not unwelcome but uninvited, and, therefore, unexpected. I imagine it must be a message of desperation: I see her lying in the road, hit by a car and writhing in pain. I pull over, call 911, Animal Control, wildlife rescue, and the emergency veterinary clinic, but no one will come. A flood of similar images washes over me: the limping buck just outside my fence; the blossoming tree by the lamppost that my neighbors cut down without explanation. I understand these as anguished cries from nature. To do what? To show more care, yes, and something else. To let our anguish of separation from the natural world break our hearts, yes. And something else. I think it must be this conversation. They are calling us into Council and not just because there is an emergency, ongoing and relentless, but a call to live our lives in a better way. The original way. The natural world, and particularly the animals, are so generous as to teach us.

The exquisite tiny green spider says, The council is so that you can see who you are - the best of who you are. She says, As with groups of people, so with circles of humans and animals. It is in the circle that we see who we are. If we only sit with humans (and not with animals and trees and clouds and sand and water) we cannot know certain things, cannot become deeper versions of ourselves. Without Nature, we become inaccessible to ourselves because we are without the other members of our community.

Council #1: At the center is the whale. 

Live your life as an example, he says simply. 

How to do this? I ask him. How do you live as an example? Humans don’t even notice, or can’t make the connections that might inhabit the lessons we are given. I look closely at the whale, the sheen of his slick, leathery skin. I look into his eyes. He seems to gaze through me into my heart, as elephants do. And horses. And dogs. And Mantas. I think of modern day whalers, and of people who bludgeon dolphins and fur seals. The attacks are so bloody, so wasteful. He hears my confusion and waits in silence. 

Finally, I ask him: How can you respond with so much restraint?  

The Whale replies, We can’t very well attack the humans without becoming like them.