We Are What We Pretend to Be
Kurt Vonnegut said that-- and Chris McCoy quoted him this week in the Memphis Flyer, thank you Chris and Kurt.
I still don't have words for what I experienced yesterday. But I want to thank you, my dear reading family, for your care and participation in my process of becoming who I pretend to be: someone a pig might see as an equal, and a friend.
October 23rd, 2015
Reunion with my Converter Pig
who As I write to you I am listening to my dog Ceebee snore on an entirely white queen size bed of her own at a Nashville Super 8 motel.
We rise early to drive the remaining two hours plus to Jamestown, where the Pig Preserve is located, but more importantly, where lives the pig that changed my outlook on a great many things. His name is Abbie Christopher.
My very first blog post was a tad less than a year ago, all in enormous caps because I couldn't figure out weebly yet. It read something to the effect of : HOW DOES THIS THING WORK? OH WELL. TOMORROW WE GO RESCUE A PIG.
Now, ten months later, I've been dancing about the pig, talking about the pig, thinking about the pig, and finally even walking down a path of offering therapy inclusive of pigs. But the question remains: do I know even one thing about pigs? do I really?
My marvelous professor Paul Smith, director of the Equine Assisted Mental Health concentration at Prescott College's Masters in Counseling program has given me a dandy of an assignment. I was looking to narrow down my paper about tomorrow's reunion and he offered the task of "bringing the individual alive on the page" by tracking three aspects of being:
I go armed with nothing more scientific than my body presence, attention, and sketchpad. And a barking walker hound observing from my little car. She's my pet; Abbie Christopher is not. Our relationship is... er... hard to define. Am still working on it.
What is this all about?
I don't know where to start except with my most recent thin slice of understanding. Imagine for a second that you have one rolodex (dated american word for personal or business address book file) that is supposed to contain all the names of anybody who's anybody to you. Anybody that matters. And all your life you thought you had x number of somebodies, and they all walk on two feet and use words to think and communicate. Then one day one name pops out: with a face not like yours; and not so bipedal. And tending to use sounds and body language to say what needs saying. Well, ok. One exception.
Then another crops up: weird. But you make one more exception.
Then all of a sudden all of these friends... you opened the door and it doesn't close. The door of your rolodex just opens, and opens, and opens, till it can't open anymore.
All these snouts, feathers, wings, all these ways of Being in This World.
It is so joyful to have friends who are so different than me.
I don't think this particular friend will remember me, but I"m hoping we'll reconnect. I'm told he's now kind of awkward adolescent. Not hanging out with big boy Rufus anymore, preferring instead his pack of homies more near his size and social preferences.
Am I cool enough to hang with him?
I never saw a cotton field in bloom until I moved to Memphis. I grew up in Illinois and my rural landscape was made up of the corn & soybeans that my Grandfather, Robert Reeder, grew on his farm in southern Illinois. These landscapes are vastly different but they both resonate deeply within me. I am discovering that landscape is deeply connected to my dance. There is the landscape that I can see, touch, smell, taste, and hear. The tall green summer cornfields of my youth, guarding the land like “dutiful soldiers.” There is also the landscape that lives inside of me; the composition of this unique container of mine. There is yet another landscape that I am coming to know through the practice of Authentic Movement. I close my eyes and wait for the impulse to move that comes from within. This unseeing landscape I have been experiencing through Authentic Movement is ever evolving. It started out circular in shape. It had borders, but they were permeable. Although my eyes were closed, I could still orient myself in the real-world landscape, in my case, Overton Park. The unseeing and the real-world landscape informing me simultaneously. This past Thursday, that all changed. I completely lost touch with the real-world and found myself solely in the unseeing landscape. The space became infinite and the shape not so clearly defined.
I am fairly new to the South, and am trying my best not to be, in the words of W. E. B. Du Bois, “a casual visitor with casual ideas.” What I know for sure is that the landscape of the South speaks to me, as does my internal and this new unseeing landscape I am coming to know.
-Bethany Wells Bak