The other evening I had a chain of recollections.
I remembered a dream that I had twenty years ago. In this dream I was walking up a long road beside which was a river flowing downstream. Far ahead, at the source of the river, was a beautiful city, my destination.
On this road there were many small snakes that would attach themselves to my ankles. I would simply shake them off without even slowing down, and continue on my way.
But something drew me to the river. When I dipped my head beneath the surface of the water, I saw a huge serpent lying motionless on the river’s floor, facing away from me. Although it was facing away from me, I knew that it had taken note of me, and was watching me out of the corner of it’s eye. It was very obvious to me that the snake was not at all worried about me, and had no malevolent intentions toward me.
At this point, I began to poke the snake with my staff, trying to get it to respond. The snake continued to look at me, never moving. I knew that I was being foolish, but this Serpent’s gaze convinced me of it’s patience and benevolence toward me, causing me to feel free to play with it.
After a little while I gave it up as futile and continued walking, still shaking off the little snakes as I walked upriver to my destination.
The thought that had evoked the memory of the dream was another event that happened years later, in the daylight this time.
I was departing for home from a day at the spa where I worked at the time. Driving through the private neighborhood that surrounds it, I came upon a curious and tragic event.
I saw a car stopped on the narrow road, facing me, with a giant snake stretched all the way across the way. The snake was at least ten feet long, and obviously injured. It was an ivory color,with very faint tan markings. It’s skin was torn, and it could barely move to get off the road. The driver had just run over this beautiful snake. She was aghast at the damage she had done, but had no idea of what to do about it.
The thing that amazed me though, was that this injured snake was not alone. There was an identically marked snake, even larger, coming to it’s side. Obviously it’s mate, it ignored the presence of the strange humans to be at it’s partners side.
It stretched out alongside the other’s side to be as close as possible, and would not leave while the other vainly tried to move off the road.
It sank home to me that this mate knew very well that his partner was never going to make it off the road alive, and he was doing several things. First, he was simply being there, supplying warmth and encouragement to a dying life partner. Secondly, he was filling his memory bank with images, smells, tactile sensation, everything possible to carry with him the memory of his partner.
The third thing I saw was what he was not doing, and it was the most remarkable to me. He was not fighting. He was being present to the one he loved, and giving what he could, while he could, in the face of his loss.
I know that some may accuse me of romanticizing the situation. I also know that animals are capable of far more emotional depth and responsiveness than many think. I would simply ask, have you been more loyal to your partner than this snake was to his?
As I was thinking of this, it came home to me, that I’ve been fighting something of my own lately.
That snake who faced the loss of his partner with love and grace, and without fighting, enabled me to face the possibility that I may live the rest of my life and die without a partner.
I hadn’t even realized that was my fear, but the memory of that day’s events enabled me to release that fear.
Life brings what it brings. My part is to be thankful for the ride, and leave the place a little better for having been here.
And it has truly been a wild ride. I’m thankful, and I’m not alone.
Thanks to you all. You are much loved.