The Epiphany

Once you experience an epiphany, there is no going back. So it was when I realized that my emotional difference was an integral, and beautiful, part of me rather than something to be feared, suppressed, and eliminated.

peak

But the other side of the epiphany, the point when everything you ever believed to be true is found to be a lie, is lonely. Those who have not reached that peak, who are lost in the struggle of self-discovery, cannot see what lies on the other side. It is not because they are blind, or see the world with disillusioned eyes, but because they have not yet organized the frames of reference necessary to make sense of this strange new world. It is a blur, a frenzied state of meaningless fluff that is of absolutely no practical use.

So for those of us who have an epiphany, in whatever field we practice, we have an obligation to make what we have envisioned, and found to be true, more clear and more real to others on a similar life journey. Sometimes we do this by prodding them on with tough love, other times we seduce them with incremental measures of success, and yet other times we bridge the new world with the old, weaving together intellectual, cultural, and mythological wisdom into an inclusive tapestry that captures our collective imaginations and life aspirations.

The epiphany, the discovery that opens up unlimited new potential discoveries, is a unique, personal experience. It is one that compels us to share that experience with others so that they, too, might benefit. Doing so in a meaningful way is a burden borne with love by those who experience these life-changing moments. We write, we talk, we use our lives as an example, we hope that someone will understand. Not to confirm that this new world exists, because the epiphany is not tainted by uncertainty, but to give it wings.

All Animals Have a Name

lion

I often have ideas about things that I would like to do, but I don’t always act on those ideas. That is a good thing, as many of my ideas are not necessarily constructive or useful or even interesting.

But one of these ideas, which I had in high school but more than 20 years later have still not gotten around to doing, was to print labels with names on them and stick them on packages throughout the meat department of a grocery store. This action would raise awareness that all animals have a name, are capable of giving and receiving love, and deserve better than to end up anonymous and grotesquely displayed under plastic wrap in an open, public refrigerator.

When it was first reported that Cecil the lion had been murdered, I did not join with those who found this act extraordinarily offensive because Cecil had a name and was specifically known and protected by a group of people. All animals have a name, a name in the heart of their mother which is too often not communicated as animal babies, when exploited as part of an economic scheme, are taken from their mothers too young. I found this act extraordinarily offensive because we are meant to love and protect our animal friends, not to kill them and parade their carcasses for pleasure.

So while I was deeply saddened by Cecil’s death, I did not feel more sympathy for him than I did for the animals I saw in a safari display at a textbook nouveau riche home not too long ago, or for those animals that I see every week at the grocery store. Cecil deserves our attention, because he was a beautiful and sensitive animal who was unjustly taken from us. But his legacy is much greater than his own life; such is the way for all who sacrifice themselves willingly nor not. His unfortunate death is a reminder that all creatures on this planet are precious and deserving of our love, attention, and protection.

All animals, like people, have a name. Whether or not we take the time to learn that name, or anything else about each person and each animal, is up to us.