Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘species’

Our Ancestor’s Children

Not that long ago, I used to think people that were grandparents were very very old. Now, that I am one, I don’t see my self as an “older” person, let alone as ancient as I once thought such generations to be.

Our oldest daughter and her wife had their daughter Ilee (our granddaughter) just over a week ago and she is amazing and beautiful. Our other daughter and her husband, had their wonderful and bright son (our grandson), just about 2 years ago and they are coming to visit us for a week.

It all seems so natural, being a grandparent and being called GaPa or Opa, Grandma or Omi. It’s as if this was always meant to be and the lines of humanity continues. Of course, it’s happening all the time and we are one continuous thread since the beginning of life on this planet, but it seems even more real when it is happening so close to home.

We truly walk on the back of our ancestors or they are at our side (depending on how you relate to them) in everything we think, do or say. The energy from the past travels into the present and the energy we react with and live with now undoubtedly spreads into and shapes the future. The awareness of this reality calls me to be conscious and make wise choices. It calls us all up to take responsibility for ourselves, our communities and our planet.

This is not a matter of doing good or being a “good” person in order to fulfill some imagined self-image of who or what we “think” we should be; it is a matter of physics, action/reaction, science and self-sustaining necessity. The adage that “There is only one of us here” has never been more blatantly apparent and reflected within our world. I pray that I (we) do not turn away and anesthetize ourselves with illusion, suffering and self-imposed forgetfulness.

Even though our species has thrived for thousands of years, many others are now extinct. There is no guarantee that ours will continue. We cannot promise our children or our children’s children that they will continue to carry on their ancestor’s lives and spirits. As long as there is breath, there is hope. I hope I live to see great great grandchildren and continue to have the capacity to love and be loved. More importantly, I hope all forms of life on this planet traveling through space has the opportunity to do likewise.

What Is It? Who Is She?

Beginning of the novel FERAL by Deena Metzger.

The moment it first occurred to the woman that she would bring the girl home was when the girl had climbed to a sturdy branch halfway up the sycamore and ensconced herself there, first removing, then dropping, her yellow leather work boots and then her socks, stretched out like lilies at their tops, fluorescent lime green no less. The girl wrapped what looked like prehensile toes around some of the finer twigs so that it appeared that she had grown into the tree or it into her. When the woman was trying to discern the nature of the being she was examining, first she thought feral, then thinking feral, she thought wolf. But wolves don’t climb trees, both the girl and the woman knew that.

Confronted by the girl’s feet, she was compelled to say simian, ape, primate, mono, monkey, but stopped there as no one would identify a species by its feet alone. Then as the woman teetered between one identification and another without knowing if the confusion or complexity was in the girl or in herself, the girl raised her mouth to the sky and opened it into a fluted goblet as if to catch rain. The sadness the child exuded was so like a perfume that one could not bear taking it in or being without it. Grief eased out into the air extending itself in mineral colors like oil on water, the thinnest of diaphanous films until it found its destination and wrapped itself about the living body, a sculpture in opal and mother of pearl. So many days, the woman admitted, she had been curious about grief while most willing to avoid the textures of its mysteries.

Climbing the tree had not been a thoughtless or impetuous action. The girl had taken a Jew’s harp, a handful of dried cranberries, a scrap of blue leather, feathers, a vial of silver and turquoise beads, a needle, some thread, other secret objects, some sacred, all carefully balanced in the lap of an oversized T-shirt that the girl turned alternately into a desk, a knapsack, a handkerchief for blowing her nose, while another T-shirt became a bandanna, a snood, and a white banner that declared most adamantly: “I will not surrender.”

Closer scrutiny indicated however that this was not a wolf or a monkey person. Nothing so close to human. Or so diminished as to say humanoid. No protoperson. Nor was she any animal the woman could identify, but she was of another species, the woman thought, of another species altogether. The way the words fell together, something else she could not yet understand was presented to her mind: An animal of other species altogether. Or, as she was only later to understand the meaning of: an animal of other species all together.

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Feral by Deena Metzger

Feral a novel by Deena Metzger. (2011, Hand to Hand Publishing). Reviewed by Gabriel Constans.

A story that takes you into and out of your self is a good story. This is such a story. One of the best I’ve read in years. “The girl postulated an entire universe by her mere existence.” Is an apt description of Feral. Within seconds of the opening, it becomes apparent that one has stepped into a familiar, yet alternate landscape. There is no preamble, pretense or long description of the journey upon which you are embarking. It has an immediacy and aliveness that take hold upon first sight.

Deena Metzger’s story about the connection between a woman, who is later called Owl Woman and a girl, who is at times known as Azul, blurs distinctions between who is saving who and looks intimately at the way we define and see our selves. In one moment of clarity, the woman realizes, “She was wrapped completely in the shimmer of her own mind.” It is these illusions and myths of what is real that Ms. Metzger explores and plays with so exquisitely that readers immediately lose themselves within the story. The woman wonders, “Was there anything in her mind that belonged to her? Or was everything in her mind something she had gathered or been given by others?” The girl can sense the woman’s mind chatter and says, “It’s such a burden, all your knowing. It makes me tired.”

The author uses words, timing and nuance like none other. An example of this brilliance is seen in the following. “Feral was the word she used to explain the girl and what the girl was doing to her. Feral. It was efficient. Feral. Again. Good.” Language is a thing. It has power, meaning and weight. It appears that there is not a word in this novel that is written without mindful intention. “She recognized that she had always sought out those who would challenge her and open the door to new ways of living.” That is what this story does for readers. It challenges us to re-consider what we tell ourselves about the life we live and what living authentically demands of our attention and time.

Everything in Feral is alive and asks us to be real. It is a beautifully told story, which blurs the lines between nonfiction and fiction. The girl tells the woman, who has been trying to counsel or “help” her that, “I don’t want to know your secrets. And I certainly don’t think I can fix anything. I just want you to be real.”

Could it be that there is no distinction between species and the differences we create within our tribes of being to describe another are illusions we have constructed to give us a sense of control and righteousness? Is it possible that we are all teachers and students in symbiotic relationships with one another, such as the characters referred to as “woman” and “girl” are in Feral?

One of the themes that runs through the story like an underground river, which can be heard, but not always seen, are questions about our shared responsibility to one another and the planet. The woman realizes that the girl has experienced and is aware of a great amount of suffering and tells her that she doesn’t have to hold on to it, but the girl says, “Someone has to carry it?” Does she? Does some “one”? Does anyone have to carry “it” or do we all carry it? Could it be that carrying suffering creates more suffering? Are there times when we’ve convinced ourselves that suffering is the only way we can stay connected with the past (people and events) and use it as a means to avoid the present and take responsibility for what exists now in front of our face? Do we have the courage and animal instincts to open our eyes and not turn away from what is real or painful?

Reading Feral wakes you up. It provides a sense of being more alive, aware and connected than you were before you embarked. With the inner strength of a well-grounded counselor, writer, naturalist and human who includes all life in her being, it is told with integrity, grit and wisdom.

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