March 6, 2012

Creepy is as Creepy Does.

by Jason Bache, flickr commons

“Remember, the true teacher is within.” ~ Sri Dharma Mittra.

How is your yoga practice?

Are you listening to your body? Are you listening to those around you? Maybe it’s time to stop listening to them.

Tonight was odd, yet strange. My girlfriend Maru and I were at a dinner party, not far from an artist residency where I am staying, in Akumal, Mexico. Our hosts had provided delicious veggie sopes, and awesome sauces. We were eating and laughing, exchanging ideas with artists from all over the planet, under a moon headed toward fullish. Altogether a good time.

Then the text came.

My girlfriend provides shuttle services for a pet cremation business in Cancun. I often help her. Yep. We drive dead dogs to the incinerator. Tonight’s text was a guy who had lost his full-sized dog and pet of 17 years. This is not a situation where you say, “Is tomorrow morning good for you?” Maru not only needed to leave the party, but she needed my help.

We explained to our friends what we were doing, and there were a few party-style laughs, and some good-natured jokes about a pretty awkward topic. Let’s face it, driving dead pets around is creepy, and the best way to deal with it in a party is to throw a few laughs around. Having listened to the comments, on our way to the car, we talked a little about how weird we are.

We drove the 20 clicks to the little seaside town where the man waited for us. He had two friends meet us in their car at the highway and guide us to him. We found him on his porch, with his big black doggie laying there uncovered, and some candles lit. The tone was hushed, reverential, and sad. We covered up the dog, gently wrapping him first in a sheet, and then in hefty bags.

Photo: Ali Goodwin

We had to lift the dog up to do this, of course. We walked him out to the little truck. This was a condo unit, so there were people out on their balconies. The dog was large: it took two of us to carry him, and we could be easily seen. I remember thinking “I feel like I’m carrying a dead body.” Blink, blink.

Out at the truck, knowing we were set to take his companion away, his facade broke. He cried. We said our goodbyes and drove slowly off.

To many, well to most, that is creepy. To me it is sacred. We are helping this man make a respectful farewell to the pet he loved for many years. In a land where underground lakes and rivers are the norm, we are handling the animal’s body in an ecologically-responsible way. Both services are important, and on a jaded planet, being with people who are at this crossroads is healing work.

We see people at their most vulnerable, and give what comfort we can. But this work is viewed as creepy. Yet hunters are not. And people who eat animals are not. Our culture has got it all wrong. In our culture, you can be a small or large part of careless animal execution, every day.

If you have 13,500 dollars, you can go to Texas and kill the sacred White Buffalo for fun. In places all across America, you can hunt from the safety of your car or an enclosed space, and have your prey released for you at a designated time, all within a huge cage. If you have three bucks, you can buy a piece of dead flesh, riddled with antibiotics and pesticides, stolen from an animal subjected to lifelong abuse, and put it in your own body, choking it down with whatever flavor of denial best suits you.

To me, these actions are seriously creepy.

A friend asked me at a restaurant last night if I could bring a fish dinner to her son. It was on my way home. Her son was hungry. My bike has a basket. I declined. I said, “I don’t do dead animals.”

But I do, don’t I? I bring dead animals to the furnace. And you know what? That is the only appropriate thing to do with an animal corpse. I suppose I was being a jerk. But I’m okay with that.

I was happy with my response, because while I do not have to try to sway anyone to my diet or my way of thinking, I also do not have to overlook, endorse or be part of animal abuse and slaughter, in any way.  I need to be where my heart is, and stop being “nice,” and “polite,” and buying into what our culture tells me.

I need to stay awake and be true. Anything short of that would be, well, creepy.


Editor: Kate Bartolotta.

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