It’s mid afternoon on a relieving fall day here in East Texas. These rare, low humidity days are celebration-worthy and all the critters on the farm agree—them with their zoomies all over the yard. It’s precious. I’d run around with them too, if I could.
I’m out in the pasture with my donkeys, three. I don’t take the time like I used to when I would just sit with them for hours. I actually talk a lot about that on my friend, Athea Davis’s podcast (which can be found here) … how sitting with animals who are as unsure of you as you are of them helps them learn to trust you. It builds the foundation for a relationship. Literally, just sitting. No phones. No timers. And what surprised me after doing this many times was how much it helped me get to know myself, too. I reckon I don’t do this as much because, well, I know these three donkeys through and through. Our daily routines are as set as the trails they’ve carved along the property with the paths they stick to.
I guess what I’d forgotten is how much *I* need the time though. The time to sit and feel grounded. And with how quickly they moved towards me and surrounded me, I guess they needed the time, too. That’s not to say I don’t interact with them multiple times a day – I do. But these timeless bouts of just sitting and being together…I have failed to make that time for….well….too long. Too long, I’ve been gone.
It begs the question, what other basic needs am I neglecting because it’s just familiar or routine? It doesn’t have a red-hot iron on it and therefore can go along without my paying attention too closely, right? And could that be why I feel like my tether’s been clipped and I’m drifting around in the clouds like a lonely, lost balloon?
I’m sitting on the ground, the pine needles poking through my sweatpants. Tee has draped his neck around mine as if he were a fox fur around a rich lady’s neck. Bunny has dipped her head all the way down into my lap and Bodhi’s two front knees are right here: right next to my face. I don’t know what his head is doing. He likes to keep watch, so I imagine he’s got an eye out.
I cried earlier: a big, heaving, splotchy cry. I cried because I’m so, so tired. I’m tired of being tired. Really, the metaphor of the lost balloon fits because how long can they float around up there by themselves before they either lose all their air and fall back down to earth or simply drift too far and disappear? Or pop?
It’s what chronic illness does to a person. It pushes them farther and farther away and when everything they try to latch onto is clipped away one by one, at some point, there’s nothing left to hold them down.
“Maybe this is where I belong,” *snap* “We found this, it might fit,” *clip* “Okay this test should give us the answer” *nope* — and on and on and on. I’m imagining now those little static electricity balls where the lighting dances around and around desperately looking for something to connect to.
Bunny gripes at Bodhi who I would guess tried to push her out of the way to get closer. She is awfully protective of me. My mom and I have a joke that Bunny thinks she’s my real mom. Bunny will shove my real mom out of the way if we’re out there and she thinks I need something. Ha. You know she’s 18 now, Bunny? My girl. The girl who started it all.
I spend the next hour or so out in the pasture with these three. Tee drifted off to sleep at one point, I think. If the pine needles weren’t pricking me, I might have, too. But I come in because I have a job as well that needs my attention. A job that I like, that I’ve learned to make healthy boundaries with and has connected me with compassionate, understanding, and kind people. I look forward to work because it plugs me into something human. As digitally connected as we all are today, I feel like our humanness isn’t as connected as it once was. Like sitting for hours with the donkeys, how often do we get to do that with each other? Just go for a walk together? Picnic in the park? Wander around the high-end grocery store just to look at stuff knowing that everything is too expensive but that lady might be giving out samples of smoked salmon and cream cheese on aisle 12 so it’s worth it? An old high school friend of mine and I used to bring bags of oranges to the park and sit on the swings and eat them. I honestly can’t remember what her and I would talk about. And I don’t know where she is today or what she’s doing but I hope she’s okay.
That’s what I want: I want more do-nothingness but do-nothingness together. Moments that a chronically ill weakling like me can have that aren’t circled around “how I’m feeling” or test results or labs or a broken heart. I suppose that’s right out my back door with my little herd. But as humans, maybe we could be doing a little more of that, too.
Hang in there.
I love you,