A week of wonder.  Awe for raw humanity.  Noticing realness where I forgot to look for it's substance.  A young orphan boy in the middle of writing his final school exams was kicked out of his home with his deaf seven-year-old sister – because he could not pay rent.  Found wondering the streets at midnight.  My old car creaking up the driveway leaving me feeling out of control of material concerns that I rely upon to 'do my life'.  Plodding around uninspired - at work feeling a true sense of my time being directed to do 'less than tasks'.  A mentor that inspired my book taking his own life.  A guru who is a wellness expert becoming ill.  A friend overcome with grief at a loss resulting in an unexpected relationship moment.  Another friend's talents disrespected - lack of empathy translating into dismissive regard for human value.  My trusty steed of a car actually breaking down.  Hearing that a friend of my son lost his father.
These sentences are all true life stories.  Events that all took place in one day this week.  I felt each event.  At a deep disconcerting level.  I felt disturbed.  At the end of this day I stared into a misty sky and smelt the rain.  I fell silent and took a deep breath.  Trying to unravel the anxiety that held my heart.  Slowly I remembered why I felt so frightened.  I felt the memory of realising that my parents were not Gods.  That they were human.  The memory was of the realisation that I had to take charge of my own destiny.  That I was responsible for my own life.  The overwhelming disturbance of separation from the comfort of security. 
What does all this have to do with animals? 
I am reeling at the end of the day.  Have rushed home.  Late after dealing with the car and missing my philosophy lecture.  Chores rushed and anxiety-fuelled dinner served.  Pour that glass of wine and demand my moment before I throw myself at my pillow, ready to start again in the morning.  I sit down heavily on the patio chair.  Stuck in my debating brain.  Feeling the heaviness of justified misery excusing my reactions. 
Finally, however, I have stopped.   Even though I have not noticed that I have stopped.  But I take a moment to breathe.  I hear a dog next door bark.  My three hero canines leap from the comfort of the couch inside and rush to my side.   I fed them earlier.  Methodically.  Without even noticing them.  I try to remember their greeting when I returned home, and realise I was not present enough to acknowledge them in my haste and angst.  But they are still here.  At my side.  The slightest threat and they hop to it.  Total true companionship.  I sigh.  Feeling a little moment of gratitude.  I hear a one of the horses in the stable let out a puff of convoluted air.  It reminds me of the joy of feeling his bristles on my face as we exchange nose kisses.  Warm horsey breath.  The dogs calm down and the cat jumps on my lap.  He only seems to do this when I feel disturbed.  His soft fur under my hand.  He purrs and I feel his comfort. In the mist on the patio I hear myself breathing again.  I sigh once more.  And then I hear the tree frogs chorusing.  I feel. 
In a moment.  One sense at a time the animals in my life awaken me to what is true.  Now I begin to clarify the day.  Shuffling the ideas and thoughts to ordered spaces where I can begin to appreciate any good there.
I remember a simple saying that always shakes my core - "He is just a man".  There is a cosmic joke in all of this.  The realisation that – yes, we are one.  But to be a part of that one, we need to take full responsibility for all that we feel and do.  For all our reactions and responses.  That when we feel fear – as a result of feeling separated, we are not empathetic.  We are disconnected.  Thank God for my animal friends.  Connecting me back to the moment.  To the inherent oneness.
I realise in a deep space, once more, how judgement causes disappointment.  How expectation is in the way of appreciation.  How empathy is damned with any demand or fear we may have.  One of the horses is obviously lying down in the stable.  I hear him exhale with contentment.  Big breath.
I looked at my day once more.
I found that orphan wrapped up in a blanket on a temporary bed made of all the lounge cushions on the floor of my son's bedroom.  My child had come to the boy and his sister's aid and assisted them to get the help they needed.  Human compassion does exist. 
Gratitude for my ten-year-old car who was messaging me that she needed a small operation.  I did not listen.  The message escalated.  When we broke down my son was with me.  He called his friend to assist.  I called the AA.  Found humour in the fact that the gentleman knew me because my car has brought us together before.  We conversed and I was inspired by his can do attitude.  Which ended up in him finding a fault that only cost R20 to repair. 
Work.  Is a work in progress.  For the good of the whole is the journey.  So grateful for a full life that enables some balance.  My cat purrs louder and unashamedly prods my limbs to arrange his comfort.  Unapologetic for his place and grace on this planet.  There is a lesson there.
My mentor.  Seeing the community of people gather around and support each other.  Being reminded of the lessons he shared.  Noticing that the journey of consciousness remains a choice.  Praying that his departure was as conscious as his life.  Enormous gratitude for the fact that he inspired so much good in my life.  So many wise animal choices.  That many choices I have made are a result of his teachings.  Feeling enormously grateful to him.  And sad.  And that's okay.  Allowing the sadness without any attachment to it.
The wellness guru's health – a reminder that we all walk our own journey.  Holding anyone in high regard, as I did my parents when I was in their comfortable security, will reduce my ability to take full responsibility. 
My friend and her grief – that connectedness goes beyond ego.  In moments where this is apparent, the joy shared in relationship with the animal's in our shared lives is momentous.
My friend and the disrespect afforded him – an opportunity for common good to make a difference.  That respect is not truth.  We are not what people label us to be.  My dog family don't care about my credentials.  The horses have no need for my CV.  The only concern my cat has right now is my lap. 
My son's friend losing his father – the final message of the day.  Lead to the reflection about paternal surrender.  That in relationship with us, animals can see controllers or partners.  I choose partners.
Surrender.  Harmless true surrender.


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