I never thought I’d write so much about cats and pigs, but here we are. Cats, I used to be allergic to until I met Oscar, Elvis, and Gracie. I just assumed I’d never be up close and personal with them. Feral pigs, here in Hawaii, outnumber people, so it was inevitable that we’d meet.
Wild boars. I’d grown up believing what I was told: pigs are slovenly sleepers that root around in their own filth. These, I assume now, given where I grew up, would be farm animals stuck in pens. I came to learn that when they are wild, they are scary, toothy monsters, smarter than dogs, that will charge at you unprovoked. But when I observe them with eyes unassured by past teachings, what I see in wild pigs is great and unbridled joy.
Sometimes at night they come right up to the house. They are so quiet, as if tiptoeing around the garden so as not to wake us. But they cannot help themselves. They are such happy creatures that they eventually have to burst out with an oink or a hushed reet!, giving themselves away. Such is their glee at the bounty they’re digging up.
Even when I stand on the porch, clap my hands, and yell for them to leave (because we cannot have them accidentally uproot our water pipes), they run away with great joy, as if it is a game. Life to a wild pig? Seems fun and full of dignity. They’re not interested in confrontation, they’re interested in exploring and eating. They gallop and trot in the exact way our cat Gracie does after she’s eaten a tasty pile of mush.
Calling Gracie our cat is simply a descriptive of relationship that we all understand. She lives here. We feed her. But we don’t own her. She has far too much self-esteem for that, which keeps her intelligence sharp. She is homebound but inwardly free. She’s got a touch of the wild to her even though she spends most of her days sleeping on our bed.
Excuse me, her bed.
What do we mean by the word wild? Do we mean free? Isn’t that what animals in the wild are expressing: the joy of freely being?
When we tame animals we may say we’re teaching them how to behave, but what that means is, how we want them to behave, which deeply means how we want them to enter our prison and become our slaves. If we’re not free, why should they be?
The Western mind loves structure. Loves to build and enter physical structures, but also loves to build and conform to mental structures. Loves this because it is not a free mind.
Have you ever heard of four-quadrant logic? It breaks up reality like this: yes, no, both, neither. Those are the options we live by, the way we discern the world. When understood individually, we end up with a mechanical, material universe. When understanding all at once—not as yes or no or both or neither, but as yes and no and both and neither—we end up living merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, for life is but a dream.
The untamed mind is a wild mind, a joyous mind, is free. And the world around such a mind is unglued—a vision of reality/unreality that has its own rules, though far more subtle than what we currently allow. Perhaps this vision of reality we’ve been yes or no-ing into existence has gone on long enough. Perhaps visions of reality are like Sanskrit mandalas meticulously laid in sand: so finely detailed and beautiful that you hope they last forever, but, when they’ve run their course, blow away for the next appearance to arise. Resisting the inevitable and necessary blowing away creates a dull mind slavishly clinging to its own artwork.
This visionary artwork of our lives has no joy in and of itself, separate and apart from the artists’ action of co-creating. You cannot grow backwards into rules that you have transcended. Being an adult child is a psychological disorder, not the perfect order of being a child. We’ve talked a lot on this website about how the journey isn’t the thing when it comes to personal transformation. And you may have wondered where your feeling that the journey is the thing fits in. This is where. In this sense, in this large, impersonal pulled-out perspective, the journey is the thing.
Just ask a pig.