I love people.
There are some really wonderful people in my life.
But also, people have let me down…a lot.
I’ve been ignored, abandoned, betrayed. Trust has been breached, boundaries have been violated, and I’ve always done my best to smile my way through it. The inner work of releasing, of moving through and letting go, that’s the real challenge. But the work that is the deepest and the toughest is learning to love again, to trust again, and to be open.
And sometimes, when you open and love and trust…sometimes, it doesn’t work out. We begin again, with friends, partners, jobs. It’s life. Humans aren’t perfect. We make mistakes and choices from misguided places, and they land us at wrong turns. Yet, we continue, because it’s all that we can do.
Relating to animals is so different. Animals are honest. They don’t hide fear, anger, or disappointment. When dogs want love, they lean in. When cats want to be left alone, they hiss. You always know what you’re getting with animals.
Before my photoshoot at Howling Woods Farm, the alarmists in my life told me not to go. They worried I’d be attacked. “They’re wild animals, you know,” and “They’re unpredictable,” were the responses I received.
But not humans? Humans aren’t wild and unpredictable?
Animals give warning signs. Usually, dogs growl before they snap. I’m sure that wolves do, too.
But humans? Humans are so good at hiding emotions that, really, it’s anybody’s game.
And yet, I’m here to tell you to trust. Trust yourself. Trust your choices. If you get hurt, learn. If someone leaves, be thankful that you get to begin again. Hold yourself close. And if you have the opportunity to be around any animal at all, take it. Animals offer something that humans just can’t: a shameless expression of love, a desire to be seen, and a nagging but present “look at me” need that humans are too shy to expose.
Love is total acceptance. Acceptance of the gnarly, the dirty, the ugly parts.
Many of us (humans) are incapable of accepting all of it, but unconditional love is just that. Loving it all. The best path to the joy of opening and living in total acceptance is self-love, something so many of us have a hard time acquiring.
There’s a loophole, though, a fast track to self-love. It’s through the eyes of animals.
Surrender to opening to the love that all animals offer. Find just one, even, to show you the way. See yourself through their forgiving, compassionate eyes.