Concept of Time

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“Spirits have no concept of time”, said the medium I saw yesterday. It was a very interesting experience. I have to admit at the beginning I was very skeptical, and didn’t know if I could trust a woman who would take your money in exchange for sharing her “gift” she claimed to have. That being said, I was also curious to what she might predict.

I’ve always been a believer in ghosts and spirits. As a young girl of 7 my family and I moved to a house near the mountains where I had a lot of eerie experiences and encounters with things not of this world. The moment we moved in you could feel that something wasn’t right. (The fist holes in the wall covered with painted paper plates should have been the first sign of serious negative energy confined in the house.) The hair on your neck would always stand up, and you constantly felt as if you were being watched. The moment my mother turned out my lights at night my curtains would form themselves into demonic faces, and I would stare at them until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. Then my sleep would be filled with nightmare upon nightmare and I never realized how truly morbid and graphic they were for such a young girl until I recalled them again at an older age. Dreams that a man with red eyes would come out of the garage and kill each member of my family, leaving me for last. Dreams where my father was barbequing the neighbors for dinner. Dreams where my brother would be torturing our entire family on spikes in the basement.

The basement was the worst part. It wasn’t completed like the rest of the house, so the floors were still cemented, and the wooden pillars that held up the rest of the house were bare. The moment you walked down the stairs (always with the lights on, I could never bring myself to go down the stairs into the pitch black) you were greeted with intense cold, odors and a pillar with the letters H-E-L-P deeply carved into it. That was where my nightmares constantly took me. To the dark and eerie basement. Come to think of it, every single nightmare I had living in that house, took place in that house. Not a good sign I don’t think.

After waking up in a cold sweat at 3:15am every morning (supposedly this is the time when all spirits are most active. “The Witching Hour.” There are millions of theories, stories, scenarios where people experience most spiritual activity at this time. Take the house of Amityville, for example.) I would stare through my dark room at the light pouring in from underneath my door and I would make sure there wasn’t going to be any type of dark figure standing behind the wooden block. After I finally got up the courage to open the door to the world unknown outside of it I would walk into the middle of the hall and in a very “The Shining” type of way I would stare down the hallway into the dark abyss. When the staring was done (I never really knew how long I would stand there each night, but I remember one morning the sun started coming up and birds started chirping. Needless to say, I had been standing there for hours.) I would run as fast as I could to my parents room and crawl into bed with them. But I didn’t feel safe with them either, I would look up to their ceiling and see floating heads with horrific faces staring back at me. Almost as if each had been beheaded. The lasting looks of fear and pain before the head left their bodies.

The house never felt right, and I saw and felt wicked things there. After we moved, I thought that I was away from the negative feelings but it never quite stopped there. There were instances when I felt things, when objects would move on their own. One night when I was at a friend’s house in college (Megan and Sam, you’ll remember this one) a door that was locked simply unlocked itself and flung open, and other times you could feel someone pushing past you in the stairwell, or hear footsteps rushing up behind you. And when a friend’s stepfather passed away there were pictures where he was found that had weird shadowy faces on them resembling the man, glasses and all. I’ve always felt I was susceptible to these energies.

Speaking of the man with glasses, his name was Trey and the medium I saw yesterday was very sure it was him speaking to me. She described him with a “T” name, someone who died in a very unexpected way due to alcohol. I knew it was him right away. He told me all different kinds of things. That I shouldn’t be scared to move, that going back to school is a good thing, that I shouldn’t blame myself for the hurt that his son caused me, that my family was relieved when I left him behind. This medium relayed all of these things to me without me muttering a single word to her about my past, present or future. I must admit that what she said was accurate, as skeptical as I was, but then again why wouldn’t it be? Why did I have such a hard time believing that someone could actually connect with that world when I felt and experienced so many things on my own? I supposed I just never thought it could be so clear and straight forward, but if she was telling me the truth about these things (which I don’t know how she would know any of the information she relayed to me otherwise) how could I not trust her?

She made me really question the idea of reality. Supposedly there have been things relayed to her about this other dimension. That there’s not really a heaven or hell, but that every spirit is there in this thin layered dimension on top of ours. The murderers, the cheats, the religious, the just. Everyone is there. I found this very interesting. So many people spend their whole life trying to be this perfect image for a God or holy being, and after all of that could you imagine just joining the serial killers on the other side? I don’t know if I believed that or not but why would she be lying? She also said that trees and plants look like that of Avatar…the movie Avatar…Yeah I don’t know guys. It’s all what you want to believe is true or not I suppose. All I know is I studied medium work after seeing the photographs of blurred and shadowy Trey, and the lady had the same ideas and thoughts as the ones I read about.

I do believe that the layers of reality and spirit are thin, and that spirits watch over us all the time and are constantly trying to communicate. That has to be the case as energy cannot be destroyed. And we, my dear readers, are full of energy. Otherwise how could I begin to explain the odd and bizarre things that happened to me as a young girl and young adult? How could my blood run cold like that in pure fear? I don’t believe in heaven or hell. I don’t believe in God. I don’t need to pray in order to be at peace with the decisions I make. I don’t need help solving problems that I’ve created. I do believe that once I die I’ll be right there living, just in a step away from reality. A step away from breathing into this blurred world that sits on top of the one we live now. People can think my idea of the spirit world is crazy, but so is a whale that swallows a man for days only to spit him out when he decides to be submissive to God…So, I think I’ll stick with my split dimension story. Sorry to offend.

So as skeptical as I was with this woman, she had a lot of insane accuracy to things that have happened or will happen in my life. Things that she couldn’t have known. And maybe she wasn’t speaking to Trey, or even saw or felt any spirit for that matter, but I must say that she made me really believe that spirits are right here walking beside us. She reminded me of all of the things I’ve experienced myself and they all came rushing back to me. The memories slapped me in the face, and I have to say I got a little emotional about it. I almost forgot all of those things that I grew up experiencing. So many people I’ve told about the medium and the things I grew up with just roll their eyes at me and tell me I only believed it because I’m a sucker, but I don’t think I would be convinced that easily had it not gone any other way. I’m a sucker for believing there’s some truth in the idea of energies affecting and manipulating the world around us.

In the presence of a medium the concept of time is meaningless, and the spirits will speak. But…maybe I’m just crazy.

-C

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Documenter

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I was always in love with cameras. Ever since I was in keds and ribbons I always wanted to take pictures of everything. I had disposable cameras that I would fill up with nonsense. I purchased a plastic fisheye camera for $20 in my kid years and exposed the film to pictures that I thought were artistic. A picture of a tree wrapped in “caution” tape through a fisheye lens? Oh hell yeah, that’s art right there.

I took classes devoted to photography in high school. Studios with lights and a dark room to develop your black and white film in. I had drawers filled with Kodiak packets of developed photos of nothing, but boy could I link a memory to them. I loved it all and you could tell.

And then one day I stopped. I put my camera in its old case I bought from a pawn shop and sat it on my shelf. I didn’t touch photography unless I was overseas, where for a brief moment I got creative again. Something about those otherworldly aesthetics, I suppose, made taking pictures exciting again. It was something that I felt needed to be documented. A country outside of my everyday life? Of course I should take pictures of what I see, and I filled up my camera with snaps by the hundreds. Why did I continue to put it away when I returned home, then? I would get a tickle in my fingers when I held the camera in my hands in another country, so why stop there? Was it just the euphoric feeling of traveling? Is that what brought on the need for that strap around my neck and the weight of a “Documenter”?

I thought that it maybe had something to do with it. Hell, I love to travel and would do anything to do so. So maybe I just like taking pictures of things I may never see again. But, along with that, it also had a lot to do with me not thinking I was really any good. I either didn’t think I was that great at photography, or that someone else was always better. I would take these wonderfully sharp black and white studio portraits or perfectly tourist-free shots of monuments and I would be so happy with my work. But then I would see another that I liked, one that wasn’t mine, and I would feel as if mine could never top that. I felt mediocre.

Why did I do that to myself? Who the hell knows. I’m foolish like that. I think that other people’s work is really well done and I put a shadow on my own that someone else may feel that same way about. So I shut out photography and just stuck with what I knew: Theatre. But I really do love photography. And I always want to be out there taking pictures, documenting things, seeing it all. I want to get better at it. I really want to try and use it in my someday career of Wildlife Biology. I want to be able to photograph the animals I work with, capture their expressions, show the world they still matter.

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And now, I’m told I’m good. Which, for those who know me too well with my hobbies, I never can think so. It cripples me. I’m not sure why that is, but it definitely gives me the drive I need to keep working at it until I’m satisfied. I definitely want to keep up my practice. I want to be able to take the types of photos I remember looking at in National Geographic magazines growing up. Something that can tell a story simply by looking at it. I’ve started small with landscapes and I’m slowly climbing the ladder again to something more. I want to make people feel a certain way with my photos. To look at them and recall a memory that they may have forgotten, or to feel something that they haven’t felt in a while.

I’ve been asked to take pictures of other’s life experiences. Baby photos, Headshots, etc. People actually want me to take pictures for them, which is something new for me, and I’m getting happier and happier to do it. I’m starting to gain that confidence that maybe I am a little better than I led myself to believe. I am actually starting to like some of the pictures that I take to the point where I want to put them somewhere. I want to take the time to edit them and make them look nice. I want to create that work of art through a photograph, and I have others to thank for that.

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If it weren’t for people telling me that they want me to keep writing and taking photographs, I assume this sudden likeness for it would dissolve away again like it has before and my mind would wander to a different hobby to fill up my free time. But with people telling me they love what they are reading, or love the pictures they are seeing has given me a new type of respect for myself. Not saying I didn’t have any already, but I really just started taking pictures and blogging because I enjoyed doing it myself. It was just an excuse to talk to myself and get my thoughts out of my head a lot faster than writing them on paper before I forgot what I was saying.

Now I look forward to going somewhere with my camera, but not just for my own enjoyment. For yours too. For my readers. It’s not just an effort to capture something that I may never see again, but it’s also a chance to practice a hobby that I’ve really grown to love. It’s a chance for me to think about the next experience I want to write about. To make sure I get that perfect shot that goes so well with a story I want to tell to you. To let you in on what I’m doing and what I’m feeling. It all comes back to this little bit of internet space that I can call my own.

So thanks for the support that you’ve all shown me. It’s helped me develop my love for writing and photography that much more, and I don’t plan on setting my camera on a shelf for dust anymore. I want to keep going, and I hope I won’t feel the discouragement I once felt. From here on out I will only continue to work harder and get better.

To the perfect photograph and most welcoming story.

-C

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Natural Selection

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Alright, ya’ll, here’s the deal. We have GOT to stop assuming that everything on this earth is ours for the taking. Knock it off. Time out. Go to your room.

I recently read an article by another writer (Keith R. Crowley, wildlife photographer) on wordpress.com discussing the hiker by the name of Lance Crosby who was killed by a bear this past week in Yellowstone Park. He reiterates in his article that the hiker went off trail, ended up getting mauled by a bear and was a bit…well…eaten as well, unfortunately. The bear, who goes by the name of Blaze by the officials at the park, had been exposed to other humans around her and her 2 cubs in the past and did nothing. No one can really know what happened this time around as the man killed was hiking alone.

Now that you know the facts, I’ll begin my severely opinionated response.

Ok, so I understand that the family of this man is probably very upset. If it were me or any of my family members I would definitely be in the same boat. My father half eaten and buried for future meals by a wild bear?! I couldn’t imagine how I would feel. But, I also have to consider one important word in that sentence. Wild. That bear was wild. It is a wild animal, which means it cannot be taken lightly, it could kill you, it only lives primarily on instinct. There’s no way you can know what it’s thinking, when it’s last meal was, how threatened it felt at the time, what it could have been doing to protect its cubs. There can be absolutely no way of knowing what was going on in that bear’s head. Any wild animal has a right to be so.

It would be no different if I had been bitten by a shark when I was surfing in Venice Beach, California. We are in their territory, their home, it does not belong to us and never did. Nor will it ever belong to us. Some people are with me on this, but others feel that as long as we put up a big fence and make a big pretty sign we can call anything ours with the help from government cash-flow. No. Nuh uh.

Please tell me we have more intelligence than to suggest that we rule this planet. I don’t know where we got this idea that we can pretend we own something that was generous enough to give us a chance, the most miniscule 1 in a million chance of survival, to even begin to live on this planet. People, Government, Country, Homo Sapiens: Grow the fuck up. Learn to have a little bit of gratitude for things that were presented for us to appreciate, not claim for our own.

If I describe a scenario to you the whole story about the hiker will seem so fickle and unnecessary. Let’s say you’re in your house with your two young children. You’re minding your business, you feel safe in the comfort of your home. Then a man, whom you’ve never seen before, walks into your home unannounced. How would you feel? Would you feel threatened? Yes. And you would immediately think of your and your children’s safety. Boom, you grab for your gun (as almost every person in our sad country has one these days) and you kill him. Self defense, intruder on personal property, case dismissed. Now lets look at it this way. So you shoot the man, and then the authorities think you shouldn’t have shot him so they kill you and put your kids in foster care. Uh, what? Yeah that would never happen.

Now lets talk about the “being eaten” part. A lot of people know that once an animal gets a taste for human flesh it will begin to hunt for them. There are instances where people believe this to be true with dogs and dog bites, sharks and shark bites, etc. I understand where the officials were coming from when they decided that the bear could no longer live in that area as there are frequent cars and hikers in Yellowstone. But, lets take this bit of information and use it. Our population is growing rapidly, and animals have nowhere to go. We build a city and expect the animals to know that they’re not welcome here, and that they should retreat into something less scary to them. Less threatening. But if we continue to expand our city, where the hell do these people expect all the animals to go? Any animal that strays into “our” city is killed on the spot, but why? We evolved from animals. Australopithecus Africanus, Homo Habilis, Pithecanthropus Erectus, “Lucy”. We grew to be the species we are after the animals have already been here, and then we build all this SHIT and kick animals out. Like we own this place. Take the mountain lion that was shot to death in Omaha, Nebraska. The mountain lion had a broken leg and was literally lying down, not moving, when the police opened fire and killed the animal. They shot the animal 16 times. 16. Times. They claim that tranquilizing it wasn’t an option because they would have had no idea how the animal would react. Right, so you prepare in advance for possibilities on how the animal would react. You put up a road block, you move people away from the threat, you take the necessary precautions. Hell, I’ve seen construction workers with beer guts and orange cones do a better job redirecting people than these cops with guns and their “expert” consulting.

PEOPLE. Our population is growing, to our unfortunate downfall, and we cannot keep pushing the animals out. They were here first. The bear in that park tasted human flesh. Why do we not study this? Why do we not try to find a way to work with the animal and figure out why it acted that way? Animals do crazy things when they’re starving to death. Take the Polar Bear filmed by Planet Earth’s amazing film crew, for instance. In the last hope of finding food he attacked a full grown Walrus only to gain substantial tusk stab wounds and no meal. He died from starvation and injury. Was there enough food for her in Yellowstone Park or was the Bear reacting the same way the Polar Bear did? Was it cause and effect? When was the last time she had eaten? Could we have started a sort of study to deter the animal from eating human flesh again, and retrain the animal to return to its normal diet and eating habits? (I know it’s a wild animal, but we work with wild animals to do certain things such as mate and relocate to help their species population without exposing them to [too much if any] human contact.) There are so many other options that could have been taken into consideration. But instead of weighing these options, and possibly figuring out if the food sources in Yellowstone need to be evaluated, the bear was killed leaving two orphaned cubs. (I take into consideration that no conservationist really wanted to kill Blaze. I only wish they could have thought against the normal protocol. With our cities expanding, we can’t just keep killing an animal that may act out of “regulation”. We are destroying habitats left and right and need to begin a process that could prevent further things like this, or at least a study to possibly influence the animal to no longer consider human flesh as a dietary option.)

The cubs are now to be raised in captivity. We orphaned these cubs and now we are putting them in a zoo for the rest of their life. WHY?! Raise them at a wildlife refugee center and release them into the wild when they’re old enough. We have the ability to do this. Monitor them, make sure they are ok to live in the wild. We are such hypocrites. We get so upset when the Congolese Rebels shoot the Mountain Gorillas in Virunga leaving their infants without mothers to be raised in captivity. We lost our shit when Walter Palmer left Cecil’s cubs to fend for themselves. But as soon as a bear in the wild kills a man on our turf: Oh yes, foster the children. We are seriously the biggest pieces of shit on this planet. I quote Renee Zellweger in Cold Mountain, “Every piece of this is Man’s bullshit. They call this war “a cloud over the land” but they made the weather and then they stand in the rain and say “Shit, it’s rainin’!”

We have saved so many lives since medicine has sky rocketed and I’m not bashing the lives we have saved, it’s a miracle that we are lucky enough to breathe through an experience that could have killed you, but Natural Selection is plummeting. Why do you think we get so tense when a disease starts killing off hoards of people? Because Natural Selection has to be maintained, and we get scared of that reality check that we are not invincible. We do not own this planet. Mother natured does. And she will tell us so when a disease mutates and takes hold of our lives. We need to realize that we are not immortal. We can’t keep pretending that we are. Natural selection needs to happen in order to keep our species sharp. It happens to animals in the wild. Species’ are maintained by the demand of food and the necessity of male mating/territorial habits. The old and weak and the overpopulated young are usually moderated by hunting. We need to be hunted, as gruesome as that sounds it’s true. We cannot keep taking over this planet. It will just become a wasteland.

Wise up people. It’s time to start realizing that just because we are at the top of the food chain doesn’t mean that something can’t deteriorate our existence just as easily as we took it from that bear in Yellowstone. I hope that my pursuit in a Wildlife Biology and Pre Veterinary Science degree next year will help all living things have a chance, because I’m sick of the disgusting clout we continue to think we have. It’s time to change that mentality. It’s time to treat everything with equal respect.

-C

Personality Surgery

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I have recently realized how beneficial leaving the nest has been for me. My parents were always very supportive and for that I am most grateful. I also wish they would have told me how much of a fuck up I was, pardon for being brash, but I guess that doesn’t really describe the term supportive. They put up with my constant Sagittarius spontaneity of “I want to be an actress”, “I want to be on Broadway”, “I want to do film”, “I want to play piano”. I’m still that way. Hell, I’m looking in to getting my pilot’s license next summer, and they just accept it I suppose. Lord knows, it’s not a family trait I picked up. I just picked it up.

I went to college for Theatre, got a bachelors in Fine Arts, and I loved that degree don’t get me wrong. But did I pick it because it was easy and I knew how to do it? Or did I genuinely want to do it? Did I pursue on the wave of being significantly lazy? Knowing full well that I’m just good at memorizing and I can study plays well. I honestly don’t know. I do enjoy stage acting, and I feel a tingling in my toes whenever I get that first lights out before walking onstage as Carol from Black Comedy, the completely neurotic and OCD British girlfriend of a hopelessly “doesn’t have his shit together” artist. Or Grete from Sight Unseen, the German reporter only flirting to lure an unsuspecting victim to admit his sham career and fickle friends. I enjoy being those people. I enjoy speaking as they speak. Playing up the Chameleon Complex. But did I need a degree in it? Did I know full well that the only career choice if not the tiniest percentage of actually becoming an acclaimed star would be teaching other hopeful doe-eyed youngsters with dreams of “bright lights, big city”?

That’s why I need to go back to school to do something else…because I don’t want to be a teacher. I loved my teachers. Passionate, creative, loving as they were did I love my teachers. But please don’t make me be a teacher.

Then there’s my minor. Music with an emphasis on Vocal Performance. Yes. Another degree that may or may not have been totally worthless had I taught vocal lessons, or somehow made it on Broadway. I love Broadway. I see shows at beautifully decorated Theaters and I admit I have enough confidence in my singing that I think I could be up there belting the ending ballad sung by Colleen Sexton, Linda Eder or Sutton Foster and woo a crowd too, even though all three of those ladies are the most talented Broadways singers I have had the privilege of listening to. I think I’m good. Still, with that being said, The Voice has yet to think I’m good enough after 2 attempts at a poorly written pop song belted by yours truly.

College was fun, but my parents were still only an hour away. I could drive home for the weekends and have a free home cooked meal that wasn’t Ramen or Hamburger Helper. So I moved to LA. I tested the waters in Film. I liked the set life, what little I saw of it in a year anyway. And again, leaving the nest was hard but my parents were supportive and I learned a lot about myself in the process of living on my own. I met horrible people. Seriously dreadful souls. And I met some of the kindest and gentlest people that have ever made my life more content. Photographers, Singers, Meditators, Band Mates, Garden Keepers. The Andersons. The Andersons.

The Andersons were my home away from home. They were my other mother/other father. They fed me home cooked meals and showed me that good people can be found in the corners of a dirty, sticky-fingered city. Some seriously wonderful people. In reminiscing with memories of this family I think of their daughter, Jenny, who loved nothing more than traveling around California. I wish I had been more equipped with funding to join her in road tripping to Ojai, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, Oakland. Her father and her also took a cross-country trip to Oregon, New Orleans, South Carolina, and quaint places in between. They opened my eyes to how much I longed to travel. Trips to Joshua Tree and random mountainous hikes, and after-work sunset surfing excursions. There is honestly nothing more calming than sitting on a surfboard, bobbing in the ocean, watching the sun go down (despite my incessant fear of a shark attack). There may or may not have been a relaxing substance, ground and wrapped, lit and smoked included in any sunset on the beach…after all, it was California. No better place for free spirits than the sandy beaches of Venice.

Of all the bad experiences I had in Los Angeles living in South Central and Mid City: hearing gun shots every night, getting bitten by a dog, coming home to my bed soaking wet from a hole in the ceiling after a full day of rain, having my newly purchased scooter break down in the middle of the road, race wars with helicopter lights, working two jobs every single day and the god awful traffic…there were some good things too. There were things I never would have learned about myself had I not moved there. I got to try new things, I got to see City & Colour and Ray LaMontagne in concert, and hear new and interesting music. I got to be in a band and play live shows. I got to meet countless Celebrities, shake their hands and tell them how thankful we all are for their entertainment, even embarrass myself in front of a few (Chris Hemsworth, Tim Meadows, Ron Howard, Jonah Hill – I am so sorry, you guys…). I got to learn how to budget my money beyond measure, and I learned what truly being alone feels like. Having holidays come and go with no one to celebrate them with. I am honestly so thankful that I was able to move there with the support from my parents and now I can truly look anyone in the eye and tell you exactly who I am, exactly what I want, and exactly how I feel.

I want to travel more. I want to be outdoorsy. I want to own a beehive. I want to be a pilot. I want to be a photographer. I want to be a videographer. I want to be a wildlife biologist. I want to be a blogger. And all of these things I plan on doing and know I will do them, because after living in LA I know that I am strong enough and smart enough to figure anything out on my own, as well as with a handful of support from the amazing people I know and will meet along the way. There’s no one in the world better than my parents who have put up with my ridiculous “backs and forths” but I’m happy they’ve helped me discover who I’ve grown to be. I think the whole family knew I would wind up being a whole lot like my mother, which I’m very happy to say…I see the resemblances. But, I’m not sure where I got this newfound explorer mentality. Perhaps it was all those times as a child I was lucky enough to see the world a bit. Anywhere from learning to drive a stick shift in Moab, asking a stranger what all those beads were for on Mardi Gras in New Orleans, wasting my time texting a boy in Hawaii all the way to seeing King Lear by the RSC in England, learning to play a Didgeridoo in Australia, and thinking I had a rain jacket but turns out it wasn’t in the pouring rain in Italy. I’m a lucky girl to have parents that want to get out and GO somewhere. I just know from now on I’m really going to take it all in with new eyes and a bright heart. Because now I have people to tell my stories to thanks to you readers, and I have pictures to take thanks to this documentarian itch I’ve been scratching.

So I’m embracing this new “Grown-Up” Personality Surgery, if there is such a thing, that I’m experiencing these days. I hope I prove the expectations of myself well. To more exploring, and a special thanks to The Andersons and of course Mom & Pop Brickwood-Figgins.

-C

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Work Talk

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Is it everyone’s dream to work outside in this aesthetically pleasing world? It’s mine, and that didn’t always used to be so. If I’m honest, I used to be the type that preferred stage lighting to natural lighting. That’s still a [I wouldn’t say passion anymore] like of mine. But, I would much rather spend my day out in the elements than spend any second of it indoors. I want to smell the freshly bloomed flowers, the pine trees, the dew from last night’s rainfall. I want to be out in it all, all the time.

I’ve decided on my furthering of knowledge. Finally. I decided to learn about Wildlife Biology with Pre Veterinary Science. I think I’d be good at it. I’ve always loved animals, and there was something so wonderful about wild ones that always captured my attention. I always thought of myself as “Eliza” from Eliza and The Wild Thornberries. Not necessarily in the sense that I can talk to wild animals, but that I understand their actions. I understand the primal instincts that make them act and feel the way they do. Or honestly, maybe I don’t, but I like to thrill myself with the idea that I could find a Gorilla somewhere and have a touching moment of eye contact and mutual respect.

When I was younger my parents always talked about me being a Veterinarian. Maybe even more so than me wanting to be an actress. They always saw this sort of undivided attention and unconditional love that I seemed to give to all living things. Something I had lost for a few years in my rampage of killing spiders and bugs that trespassed inside my home. I don’t do that in recent years. Even the smallest creature has a chance, and can hold it’s life in my presence, after all it’s probably more scared of me than I am of it. I have always loved animals. I was always the one at any party or event that if I knew there were animals around I would slink to that side of the house and spend my evening petting it and giving it love. A very anti-social habit I suppose.

The only thing about being a Veterinarian is the inevitable experience of death in your arms. I didn’t want that. I know that pursuing something in Wildlife Biology will open the door for that possibility, but all I’m hoping is that it will be less frequently. I don’t know how often I could have handled an animal dying on my operating table. It’s funny to say that even watching shows where humans lives cease to be is less heart retching than seeing that of an animal, for me anyway. The way I think about it is: animals don’t have words. They can’t tell you how they feel, they can’t communicate with you like humans can. All you can do is see the genuine expressions in their faces and read how they must be feeling. Whether that feeling is sadness, pain, happiness, or contentment. We can only guess by what we know about the animal how it feels.

That is what I want to do. I want to look into an animals eyes and know what it’s feeling, know what it’s thinking. I want to help them. These creatures need a voice. They need someone to look after them and to help keep their habitat around. I’m sure a few of you are wondering if I’m a vegetarian by this point. If I love animals SOOO much than I must only eat vegetables and fruit. That is not true. I’m not a vegetarian. But, after reading a chapter in “The Dalai Lama’s Cat” (a very good book on the practices of Buddhism through the eyes of a Himalayan Cat) I have become very mindful of the meat I eat. An animal’s life was taken away so that I could have strength to live. I take that into consideration every time I eat meat. I cherish the fact that I am alive because of that animal. Even vegetarians kill animals. I know you might be thinking, “Whoa now”. But, it’s true. Habitats are destroyed to make room for crop fields for vegetables. Pesticides are sprayed on vegetables to make them palatable, and in turn killing a lot of bugs. It’s all part of life, my sweet little readers. Just be mindful. Just know that what you are eating was slaved over to make it actually tasty. Every breath you take is because of the food you have eaten to make your body stronger. It is all part of the cycle. And I want to give back to them for getting my through these 25 years of extraordinary life.

So one day I will be able to walk into a rainforest and look a wild animal in the eye and study it, love it, cherish it for not leaving this earth yet. Most importantly, I will look a wild animal in the eye and then I will give it a voice. Because how else could we repay these amazing creatures?

-C

Windows

Antelope Island4

I wonder what it is about being out in nature completely engrossed in everything “anti-technology” that I find so refreshing. I know everyone feels this way at some point. These brief euphoric moments of just being there, taking in the fresh air, looking through those clear eyes and flipping those images around to something that takes your breath away.

On trips away from home I turn my phone off. The only thing with electricity pulsing through itself in my possession is my camera. My window. I look through my eyes, to look through the camera, to capture an image that captures my attention. To save that moment of something that made me feel. It didn’t tell me it thought I was beautiful, it didn’t ask me my story but it was beautiful and I wanted to know its story. Where it came from, how it came to be. What natural phenomenon created such an amazing spectacle for others to experience. Not asking for anything in return but simply lying there in its vulnerable state for anyone and everyone to enjoy a gaze.

The earth is a window. We look through it up into the stars at night. Into the vast universe that has no bounds. Our planet is a spec of sand that clings to our cheek as the rest washes into the ocean. Swishing and pulsing through the waves, creating a mermaid like effect on dorsal fins and scales. Shimmering in the peaks of sunlight through the thickness of water.

All of these beautiful things are wrapped around our planet like cellophane. And our planet is wrapped by an unlimited blackness. Spreading and spreading until no measurements can be made. Perhaps our planet is a window for onlookers to gather and focus through. Seeing our many wonders. Getting glints in their eye from the stars on the journey like we vulnerable humans looking into the sun, the flares burning orange into the black behind closed eyelids.

I have found I feel happiest looking out at these things so rarely appreciated by human beings. We are too concerned with the “grind”. We are too fearful of paychecks and bills. We don’t look out our windows and marvel at the life around us. We treat each day as a necessity to finish chores, upkeep images, revel in our pixelated screens. Thank god we have terms that put faith back in a self sustaining, nature loving, animal befriending homosapien such as “granola”. What happened to the love for nature, for bees, for all creatures? Look through your windows and see these things again my dears. Take a moment out of your day and enjoy what this earth has to provide for you. Look at the trees, listen to the singing birds, look up from the electric box and take a stroll at night to look up at the stars.

A couple weeks ago, a monumental thing happened. As everyone knows, a beloved lion was killed and beheaded for pleasure. For sport. Every living creature values life, and one was taken away for the pleasure of another. This life was taken because it was thought inferior when it shouldn’t have been. All things are equal. And a man with dentist chairs has no power over another. Cecil should be a new term. A term for loving life. A term for living. When I am alive and happily living, I am breathing as Cecil. I am continuing on for him.

No creature should have to be at the hands of another unless it is for survival. No life should be taken to be crested in gold and placed on a shelf to collect dust. Slowly losing its value over time as a symbol for something that used to breathe life. Look into yourself and decide if you would rather cherish materialistic things or value that happiness and experience that is life. Shut the windows that leave you cold from death, and open the windows that leave you warm from life.

We say that we, as humans, are at the top of the food chain. But I have realized something recently. We are not at the top of the food chain, because we are killed every day. Our bodies are eaten and torn and broken every day. What do you ask does this? Bullets. Bullets are at the top of the food chain. Stare a bullet in the face and you will fear for your life as any creature would. They are unstoppable. They cannot be destroyed. A bullet took Cecil, and there was nothing he could do about it. And neither could we.

What was done saddens me. What was done was entirely wrong. I only hope that what was done will provide other animals with safety and love. I only hope that it has provided us with a new perspective. A new window of opportunity, and that we will provide more protection to those animals in danger of leaving our planet forever.

Open the window for love, crawl out, and start loving. Start living. “Cecil”.

-C

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” – Mahatma Ghandi

“All beings tremble before violence. All fear death, all love life. See yourself in others. Then whom can you hurt? What harm can you do?” – Buddha