It’s 4:30am on this early February morning, and I just can’t sleep. It could be a room too warm or living at eight thousand feet above sea altitude. Or perhaps, it is the deep sadness, frustration and discouragement meeting me in my days. It’s hard to feel beyond the obstacles, gather the energy to sustain my creative efforts on behalf of all things four-legged and winged.
I wonder how my life can ever change when I struggle so hard and feel that little is moving in the direction I need it to move in.
God help me, does anyone else ever feel this way?
Because ever since that damned awakening nine years hence, the one where I was called forth to abandon my first marriage for the voice I couldn’t have, I’ve been advocating for the animals I chance across. It went something this:
I’m here to devote myself, to continue opening to constantly listening, to richly developing a life for others, not just for myself. A life for the earth, for wolves and prairie dogs, for rivers and mountains, humans and hawks. A life for us all, lived with greater awareness of our potential for harm and our capacity for good…
My own words reflected back to me now, as written in my journals just before I nearly drowned in the Lamar River, make me cry. I know many advocates who feel this way, who turn away from their heart’s pursuits with bitterness, resentment and cynicism in their war-torn spirits and battle-weary hearts. I know the days I fall down; I know the discursive dialogue in my mind, now all too familiar.
There are days in which I feel humiliated with the hubris in which I believed I could make a living writing about animals or advocating for them. That I was supposed to do that — and only that – as my life path. That the major, transformational life change into the big Self I reclaimed was supposed to mean something. I thought I could find place, find people who needed or wanted what I wrote for the nonhuman beings of this world.
Or maybe, it’s all simply for the animals.
Hell, we have a developer for a president squatting in the Whitehouse, a capitalist, misogynistic, racist, swine. Doesn’t that say something about the values of our culture?
One of my favorite writers, Julia Cameron, speaks of remuneration for our efforts – as an artist, it completes the creation cycle. You find a place and receive a reward — however modest — as reaffirmation for your effort.
Do what you love, and the money will follow, the tired platitude of the human potential movement. They seem to be making a living propounding that idea. What then, for the rest of us, embracing that idea for animal advocacy?
I give my life to the animals. I do it every waking moment of my living, breathing days. Isn’t it fair, then, that I have a life back in return, for doing so? Isn’t that the call of every animal advocate?
I long to love and care for the creatures of this world – but the only return from animals is that of their love. And a writer can’t live on that.
I ask, then, What’s a passionate, talented, creative, intelligent, dedicated animal advocate to do?
You have very expensive tastes where your dogs are concerned, my friend Leslie said to me the other day at Brewing Market. As she held her repurposed bottle of Smart Water while I sipped a $3.50 Chai latte, I hesitated. She was one of my few friends who could get away saying such things to me. At least, you could have a job to pay for your dog things.
I’m not contradicting what you’re saying, I finished taking a sip. Leslie has always been my friend. I realize I require that our dogs get the best food we can afford. So, I research, I ask. I wind up with a $70 bag of Fromm Lamb & Lentil kibble, to help make sure my incontinent Shepherd mutt’s solids remain so. Her incontinence requires daily Prazosin & Bethanecol, her arthritis requires Metacam, her aging dementia is soothed by CBD Oil. And diapers, well, we run through seven to eight dozen in any given month. I spend my days writing, looking for opportunities…
So yes, you’re exactly right, I smiled at Leslie, Where dogs are concerned, there is expense – and the younger ones, they don’t require near as much. Just kibble – Fromm – wet food, training treats, bones and toys…
She laughed, because she knew the truth of it, having a dog with a neurological problem herself. But Leslie is my realtor friend and a former mentor when I was such – a profession I relinquished for emotional and psychological sanity.
Should a writer relinquish their dreams and return to a more lucrative pursuit?
Some people have a travel addiction, others — children consuming all their resources. I’ve chosen – and would continue to choose – to care for the dogs I chance across who require things to live that cost money. It’s not as though I can ask for them for free, as an advocate and a writer – say,
Don’t we all need sponsors for our lives? I ponder the dilemma for a while…
If I resolve nothing else at 4:30am on this early February morning, it’s another working through, a wading and muddling in the muddy, murky waters of how to process the deepest emotions of sadness or despair into clarity, and how to move beyond obstacles into more creative answers. Each time I allow myself to dive down deep, swim with the emotional turmoil that accompanies this life and throw in a little bit of compassion, I resurface with something lighter. I’d like to say it comes from intuition, but I know better — it is the voice of my own Higher Power that has been leading me through every weighted, challenging step of this journey.
And for that level of reaffirmation, I can keep going. Just for today, I’ll contact the people I give my money to in order to keep my dogs alive, and see if they would like to return the favor…